Capsule Reviews

Dreaming America: In the Bunker With George What's a comedy show this blatantly feminist, left-wing and intellectual doing in a red state like Texas? Echo Theatre's Rhonda Blair, Terri Ferguson and Jerrika Hinton risk getting shipped off to a re-education camp if they keep performing material this smart, funny and openly anti-establishment. In 75 minutes of skits and songs, the women take dead aim at the Bushies, skewering the administration in its own fractured syntax. No issue is left behind, from fundamentalist religion to abortion rights, gay marriage and every other topic that makes the right wing squirm. The show starts slowly but quickly picks up steam. Sure, they're preaching to the choir most likely--who else would buy a ticket?--but dang, they're good. "Mr. President, it's really me this time," Jesus says in a phone call to W (a running gag). "You've gotten confused about a couple of things." Keep ranting, ladies. And save a top bunk for us. Through October 30 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive, 214-904-0500. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues Lordy, what God-given voices they have in this local production of the nostalgic musical revue that was a modest Broadway hit in 2000. The cast of seven includes Dallas' reigning musical divas Liz Mikel and Denise Lee, who stop the show with a bone-chilling duet of the blues classic "Strange Fruit." The history of the blues begins with African chants and travels into gospel, bluegrass, country and rock. For more than two hours, it's nonstop tunes from performers who know how to act as well as sing numbers such as "Fever," "My Man Rocks Me," "Now I'm Gonna Be Bad" and about 30 more. Audience involvement is encouraged. Sit on a front row and risk being pulled onstage to dance. Director Terry Martin lets his cast ham it up a bit too much, but it's all in the service of entertainment. Never has feeling the blues felt like so much fun. Through October 31 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison, 972-450-6232. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

To Kill a Mockingbird Dallas Children's Theater opens its 21st season with Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer-winning 1960 novel. "Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it," begins the narrator. "Somehow, it was hotter then. Men's stiff collars wilted by 9 in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon and after their 3 o'clock naps and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum." Ah, such writing. That's the beauty of this perennial best-selling novel. Unfortunately, the stage version condenses the plot and truncates some characters. And unlike the novel and the 1962 movie, the narrator is no longer the grown-up tomboy Scout, but a neighbor lady named Maudie (Elly Lindsay) who talks to the audience like the stage manager does in Our Town. Still, the story of racial prejudice in 1930s Alabama packs a big punch, and DCT's cast is full of top-notch professional actors who know how to treat a classic with respect. The leading character, defense lawyer Atticus Finch (played here by the fine Bill Jenkins), is one of the great heroes of American literature. Robyn Flatt directed this production, which co-stars Guinea Bennett-Price as housekeeper Calpurnia and Julius Washington as the wrongly accused Tom Robinson. Young Pam Covington and Evelyn Roberts alternate in the role of Scout. Recommended for older children and adults. Continues through October 17 in the Baker Theater at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts, 5938 Skillman St., 214-740-0051. Reviewed September 30. (E.L.)

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