Capsule Reviews

Camelot Casting younger actors in the leading roles of King Arthur, Guenevere, Lancelot and Pellinore is a nice gimmick. Too bad we don't get a good look at them in Plano Rep's current production of the 1960 Lerner and Loewe musical. Instead, Regan Adair (a dramatic actor who turns out to be a sweetly pleasant singer as Arthur), Jessica D. Turner (a bit shrill and pitchy as Guen) and Ron Gonzalez (a beefy Lance) appear to be living in the shadowy corners down in Camelot's dungeon. This is the Arthurian legend re-imagined in the land of the Hobbits, with spooky tree limbs looming overhead, enough fog to choke a dragon and less candlepower than an Easy-Bake oven. Director Joel Ferrell sucks all the lightness out of the frothy score by slowing down the pace and inserting interminable pauses. One performance does add a special glow: Brian Gonzales lends his superior vocal skills to the dual roles of Merlyn the Magician and old King Pellinore. His comic timing is a much-needed upper in a production that feels like a tour of a catacomb. Through November 7 at Plano Repertory Theatre, 15th Street at H Avenue, Plano, 972-422-7460. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

The Rocky Horror Show Time to gather up the water pistols, rubber gloves, toilet tissue and newspapers for a trip to Dr. Frank 'N' Furter's spooky manse. Richard O'Brien's 1973 rock musical holds up just fine in this slick and sexy production. Paul Taylor makes a gorgeous "sweet transsexual from Transylvania" in his satin bustier and thick-as-jam lipgloss. Marisa Diotalevi and William Blake, as the doctor's alien helpers Magenta and Riff-Raff, do some mad-good singing. Doug Miller as the squaresville Brad and Cara Statham Serber as his virginal girlfriend Janet (dammit!) are almost too good to deserve the audience's shouted insults (don't worry--they're supposed to say those things). Director Bob Hess adds some original flourishes to the kitschy idiocy and keeps the pace at warp speed. By the time the cast reprises "The Time Warp," you won't want to leave. Through November 6 at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas. Special midnight performances October 29 and October 30 and November 6. 5601 Sears St., 214-828-0094. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

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 October 14. (E.L.)

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 October 14. (E.L.)