For the impatient theatergoer, festivals such as WaterTower Theatre's Out of the Loop Fringe are a good fit. Lots of short, provocative pieces. (Most performances come in under an hour.) A mix of dance, music, drama and comedy. Plenty of breaks to mingle with patrons and artists.
Now in its twelfth year, the 10-day Loop Festival in Addison, North Texas' largest fringe theater celebration, runs March 7-17, featuring 18 different shows by local and imported performers whose productions are scattered over a schedule that fills three theater spaces and the lobby at the Addison Theatre Centre. (The Observer is a sponsor.)
This year's fest includes QLive, Outcry Theatre, Contemporary Ballet Dallas, Muscle Memory Dance Theatre, solo actors David Lee Nelson and Patrick O'Brien, Fort Worth Opera, FTP Comedy, Dallas Poetry Slam, Rhythmic Souls tap troupe, American Actors Company, cabaret singer Ayana Hampton, Stolen Shakespeare Guild, imPULSE dance project inc., and singers Diana Sheehan (whose revue of Rodgers and Hart tunes already has sold all its tickets), Walter Lee, Ayana Hampton and Amy Stevenson. Other hot tickets at this year's Loop:
The Elephant in My Closet, writer/performer David Lee Nelson's comedy romp through the history of the Republican Party and the story of his own political leanings that forces him to tell his staunchly conservative father that he is, indeed, a Democrat. Nelson has become a favorite at the Loop in recent years and has done his shows at the renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. (Performed March 15, 16, 17 on the main stage.)
Underneath the Lintel, a one-man show starring Patrick O'Brien as an eccentric librarian who discovers a book that is 123 years overdue and sets out to find the borrower. The piece was named "Best One-Man Show" at the 2012 London Fringe Festival and the 2012 Minnesota Fringe. You might recognize O'Brien from his role as the math teacher on the kiddie sitcom Saved by the Bell. (March 8, 9, 10 in the Stone Cottage space.)
Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays offer a pastiche of scenes about the universal challenges of relationships. Among the contributing writers are theater luminaries Mo Gaffney, Moisés Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod and Paul Rudnick. Produced by QLive. (March 9, 10, 17 on the main stage.)
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The Ugly One, by Marius von Mayenburg, stars Dallas actors Jeff Swearingen, Ted Wold, Montgomery Sutton and Natalie Young in a farce about identity and human beauty. What happens to a man who once was ugly and has surgery to change his looks? WaterTower's Terry Martin directs. (March 7, 10, 13, 15, 16 in the Studio Theatre.)
The Morning After Show stars Booker T. grad Ayana Hampton singing her irreverent cabaret act saluting disco and drag. The show was created by Hampton, now based in L.A., and also features former Dallas actor Clayton Farris, who directed the piece. (March 14, 15, 16, 17 in the Stone Cottage.)
Phoenix, performed by the American Actors Company, is playwright Scott Organ's dark comedy about romance and compulsion, as a one-night stand turns into an ongoing relationship for a young couple. (March 9, 10, 17 in the Studio Theatre.)
Out of the Loop Fringe Festival Continues through March 17 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. Call 972-450-6232. Tickets are $10 per show, with full festival passes for $65.