Capsule Reviews

The Crucible Arthur Miller's most-produced play feels more relevant than ever. Sure, we get the old references to the McCarthy witch hunts in the parable, but now the drama resounds with echoes of "the war on terrorism" and even the horrors of Abu Ghraib in its story of witchcraft and mass hysteria in the America of 1692. Director Terry Martin has assembled a first-rate cast of theater veterans for his production, including R Bruce Elliott, Chamblee Ferguson, Paul Taylor and Steve M. Powell, playing the various judges, ministers and witnesses of the Salem witch trials. The almost too-glamorous Joe Nemmers is the ennobled farmer John Proctor, forced to send himself and his God-fearing wife Elizabeth (Shelley Tharp-Payton) to the gallows rather than lie about deals with the devil. On a set by Clare Floyd Devries that resembles the inside of a rough wooden crate, Miller's epic tragedy unfolds over three hours. The first hour is uneven; the second absolutely riveting. The third is flooded with tragedy, as it should be. Great work. Through April 30 at WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. 972-450-6232. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

Diaries of a Barefoot Diva: And Other Tales and Stories From the Ghetto The residents of a rundown building on MLK Boulevard become subjects of a documentary by an aspiring filmmaker in this new musical by its star, Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, and composers Joe Rogers and Aaron Petite. The comedy is get-down funny, and the tuneful songs comment on the hopes and dreams of the eccentric characters. Who needs Tyler Perry's Madea? This show's biggest heart and sassiest mouth belongs to Aunt Bea (Carolyn Hatcher), the neighborhood busybody in the floral muumuu. And though we assume that old Mr. Charlie (Robert Rouse) is homeless, his sudden death reveals a secret that will change his friends' lives for the better. Keyton, as always, uses her gigantic voice to great effect. But the best vocals come from Rouse, who doesn't need to shake the rafters to move the audience. Through April 23 at Jubilee Theatre, 506 Main St., Fort Worth, 817-338-4411. Reviewed March 30. (E.L.)

Waiting for a Train: The Life and Songs of Jimmie Rodgers The name in the title of this new bio-musical enjoyed a short career as a recording star during the Depression before dying of tuberculosis. Known as "The Blue Yodeler," Rodgers wrote hillbilly tunes that recently have been rediscovered thanks to O Brother, Where Art Thou? Undermain Theatre's Bruce DuBose wrote and stars in this show, which doesn't come close to paying worthy tribute to Rodgers or his music. Biggest problem (other than a script that eschews any semblance of storytelling) is that DuBose can't sing. Can't yodel either. So what was the point? Continues through May 13 at Undermain Theatre, 3200 Main St., 214-747-5515. Reviewed April 6. (E.L.)