The City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs recently announced the city’s first Free Night of Theater, to be held from Oct. 16 through Nov. 10. If you’d like to attend one of the free nights, you must reserve tickets through the Free Night of Theater Web site, www.freenightoftheater.net, beginning at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 1.
Art&Seek has asked participating companies to let us know about the shows that you can attend for free, in the hopes that you’ll have a little easier time picking among all the enticing options. (If you’re a company that hasn’t yet replied to our query, please drop us a line at [email protected]) Otherwise, keep reading to see what our responders had to say. And if you miss the free night, but still want to check out the play, click on the theater’s name for a list of additional performances.
Theater: Charles W. Eisemann Center
- Performance: Pinkalicious, The Musical
Date: Oct. 19 at 2:30 pm in the Hill Performance Hall
The script: From the popular children’s book by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann, Pinkalicious is an adorable musical about a girl who can’t stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her pink indulgence lands her at the doctor’s office with Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe – a dream come true for this pink loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, and Pinkalicious starts turning pink, what is she going to do? Pinkalicious is there to remind you that sometimes what you have is good enough.
Our twist: Pinkalicous, the Musical is presented as part of Eisemann Center Presents’ new Family Theatre Series.
This show’s for you if you like: Professional touring theater productions for the entire family — and pink cupcakes!
Theater: Dallas Children’s Theater
- Performance: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Free dates: Oct. 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m.
The script: She’s back! Make way for Lilly – the feisty, irrepressible, impulsive “queen of everything.” This spunky mouse-girl absolutely loves school until her teacher confiscates her purple plastic purse and its very important contents. Lilly’s amazing exploits become life lessons learned with plenty of fun and laughs along the way.
Our twist: DCT opens its 25th Anniversary Season with this celebration of youth and childhood.
Back stage: Rabin Award winning sound designer Marco Salinas brings swing, techno, musical theater and jazz to Lilly’s spectacular purse.
Face time: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts grad Kineta Massey starred as Lilly in DCT’s 2002 production and reprises her role for a new generation of Lilly fans.
This show’s for you if you like: Purses, disguises, rocket ships and secret backwards languages!
Theater: Dallas Children’s Theater
- Performance: The Mummy’s Claw
Free dates: Oct. 17, 24 and 31 and 7:30p.m.
The script: This horror spoof will have audiences “wrapped” in suspense and laughter just in time for the arrival of King Tut’s treasures! In the grand tradition of Agatha Christie and Monty Python, a colorful collection of zany characters convene at archaeologist Sir Nevil Blore’s Egyptian “digs” to solve an ancient puzzle. A simple house party becomes a life or death struggle in the Valley of the Nile.
Our twist: Translating hieroglyphics of an ancient curse is bound to set the supernatural in motion!
Back stage: Don’t miss gorgeous period costumes from the early 1920s and an exotic Egyptian set.
Face time: Marianne Galloway, founder of Risk! Theater Initiative, plays Mrs. Catharyn Ashley of Manchester.
This show’s for you if you like: British comedy and Egypt-o-mania!
Theater: Echo Theatre
- Performance: Going to See the Elephant by Karen Hensel and Elana Kent. Based on an idea by Patti Johns; characters created by Patti Johns, Sylvia Meredith, Elizabeth Shaw and Laura Toffenetti
Date: Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
The script: Outside a sod hut in the Kansas wilderness of the 1870s, four frontier women wrest a living from the stubborn soil. As they cope with wolf attacks, the constant fear of Indians and the isolation of the prairie, they talk of “going to see the elephant” — living lives fueled by curiosity, wonder and hope. Going to See the Elephant reminds us that the West was not tamed by men alone.
Our twist: This presentation is part of the Echo Reads Salon Series. It is a staged reading with a director and professional actors who have had limited rehearsal, followed by an informal Salon attended by the audience and the artists.
Backstage: Many of the plays presented during Echo Reads go on to become full-fledged productions. Audience feedback during the post-show Salon often lets the producers know how the script will be received during the regular season.
Face time: Since there is an audience talk-back after the production, the evening is full of fun and face-time with popular local artists.
This show’s for you if you like: Tales of frontier days and informal, fun-filled performances where YOU get to ask questions and participate in the discussion.
- Performance: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf
Free date: Oct. 16 at 8 p.m.
The script: This passionately-feminist spellbinder is a fluid collection of vivid prose and free-verse narratives performed by young black women. The characters capture inner feelings that infuse a unique universality.
Our twist: This production of For Colored Girls is directed by an original cast member of the production in New York back in 1976 – Lorey Hayes.
Back stage: Two interesting facts about Ms. Hayes: she was in the movie Dreamgirls with Jennifer Hudson and she has kissed Samuel L. Jackson on stage
Face time: This multitalented cast comes from both Dallas and Fort Worth and has spent over 100 hours rehearsing and preparing for this show on top of their day jobs.
This show’s for you if you like: Poetry, slam poetry, dance, women’s issues and lively theater.
- Performance: Dream Awake by Mark-Brian Sonna
Free dates: Oct. 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.
The script: A court appointed psychologist is assigned to determine the sanity of a babysitter who is being charged with brutally murdering two children. Since the young woman has no recollection of the shocking event, to facilitate remembrance, the psychologist places her under hypnosis. The crime she proceeds to describe confirms her involvement in a brutal murder but not of the two children she’s accused of killing but of two others. The mystery deepens as the young girl proceeds to reveal more details of this new crime and the police are unable to locate the victims. Is her recollection faulty? Has the psychologist inadvertently created a false memory, thus making an innocent person now guilty? Or is the girl actually a serial killer caught? Thrill as the mystery unravels and you discover if her memories are part of a dream or if they happened while she was awake. Rated R due to subject matter and language.
Our twist: This play is one of the “nightmare” plays by Mark-Brian Sonna. It is based on an actual dream, albeit a scary one.
Back stage: Though almost everyone in the cast and crew is a U.S. born citizen, by coincidence, almost everyone speaks Spanish and/or has lived in Mexico at some time. Half the time everyone is speaking Spanish to keep their language skills up to date!
Face time: The play has a psychologist who practices hypnotherapy. The cast includes an actress who is a practicing psychologist and hypnotherapist.
This show’s for you if you like: Thrillers with an intense psychological twist.
Theater: One Thirty Productions
- Performance: Wedding Belles
Free date: Oct. 29 at 1:30 pm
The script: Small town Texas in 1942 and America is at war. A young couple plans to marry before he ships out. They get some unexpected help from a group of local ladies that you will not soon forget.
Our twist: This is a world premiere of this play, and we are Dallas’ one and only matinee series. Ronnie Claire Edwards (who wrote the play with Alan Bailey) will be present for the opening performance.
Backstage: We perform in a 99-seat theater that seats the audience on three sides, which provides an intimate theatrical experience.
Face time: Cast member Mary Lang returns to play light comedy after playing a doomed prostitute in Tennessee Williams Hello from Bertha in the recent Festival of Independent Theaters.
This show’s for you if you like: Light comedies that are “old fashioned” in the sense that they tell a good story, are filled with unforgettable characters and don’t offend with questionable language and situations.
Theater: Repertory Company Theatre
- Performance: Urinetown
Free dates: Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 19 at 2 p.m.
The script: Urinetown is a funny, smart, Tony Award-winning musical. Its action takes place in a city of the future where, as the result of severe and ongoing water shortages, private toilets have been banned. A giant corporation, the Urine Good Company (UGC for short), is in charge of all pay-per-pee services. The gradually escalating price is still affordable to a well-off few, but teeming masses of poor have to scrape together piles of spare change every day in order to take care of their private business. This, announces policeman-narrator Officer Lockstock, is “the central conceit of the show.”
Our twist: The entire play is a send-up of the musical comedy genre, and the audience goes home laughing at gags and humming memorable tunes. Many reviewers have emphasized the infectious zaniness of the play, seemingly missing its explicit message (that idealism and good intentions are insufficient responses to problems of population pressure and resource depletion). Maybe that’s just as well: Urinetown succeeds so well as comedy and theater that even people utterly immune to its insights still have a good time; thus more people are drawn to see it, including those who do get it.
Back stage: This will be RCT’s first green production. Costumes and sets will be made up of recycled and environmentally friendly materials.
This show’s for you if you like: Broadway musicals, forbidden Broadway, spoofs … or just love to laugh!
Theater: Teatro Dallas
- Performance: Don Juan the Vampire
Free dates: Oct. 16, 23 and 30 at 8:15 p.m.
The script: A love, lust and bloody adaptation based on Don Juan Tenorio by playwright Zorrilla. In English and Spanish. Celebrate Days of the Dead as it has been celebrated in Mexico since the mid 1800s. Follow our vampire Don Juan as he climbs cloisters seducing women and laughing at the law and the religious values of society. A classic piece not to be missed!
Our twist: It’s set in the 1950s! Rock and roll baby!
This show’s for you if you like: Horror, vampires, mystery and adaptations of classic literature.
Theater: TeCo Theatrical Productions
- Performance: Leonard’s Car
Free date:Oct. 16 at 8 p.m.
The script:This sparkling award-winning play by Dallas playwright Isabella Russell-Ides features an exuberant, over-the-top artist, Josey Jeauxcarré — the reckless driver at the play’s center. Her heady flirtation with suicide puts her on a collision course with memory and two grown daughters, Skylark and Ruby Tuesday, who remember differently. Powerful offstage characters, in particular Josey’s dead lover Leonard, exert their own gravitational pull. Will Josey restore Leonard’s 1955 T-bird and drive into the big blue nowhere á la Thelma and Louise? An exciting new cast promises unforgettable powerhouse performances. Starring Michelle René (Josey Jeauxcarré), Octavia Y. Thomas (Skylark) and Ashley Wilkerson (Ruby Tuesday). Directed by Terri Ferguson.
Our twist: TeCo Theatrical Productions recently renovated a 10,000 square-foot building near the Bishop Arts District. It is an intimate, Broadway-style space that includes an art gallery, arts business incubator center, learning laboratory and a 170-seat state-of-the-art proscenium theater with dressing rooms. Leonard’s Car opens our 2008/2009 season and is the first play to be featured in our beautiful space.
Face time: Isabella Russell-Ides is an award-winning, local playwright who has performances all over the country.
This show’s for you if you like: A rollercoaster ride of electrifying theater.
Theater: Theatre Britain
- Performance: Peacemaker
Free date: Oct. 18 at 2 p.m.
The script: Simp and her friend, Franny, live in the Land of Red. They are very glad that they have never seen anyone from the Land of Blue, for Blues are monsters with huge claws and eyes like burning coals. And Blues eat Reds if they catch them. Everyone says so. But today is a day like no other. Today is the day Simp and Franny will remember for the rest of their lives. Today is the day they will meet a Blue!
Our twist: We take David Holman’s Peacemaker into schools, libraries, churches, apartment complexes etc. and only very occasionally get to perform in theaters.
Back stage: When you build costumes for a land where the only color available is red (or blue), you can have a lot of fun with all the different shades.
Face time: Over the years, six cast members have learned to juggle.
This show’s for you if you like: Juggling, dancing, puppetry and a dash of audience participation. Oh, and a cool message for children, too!
Theater: Theatre Three
- Performance: The Light in the Piazza, a musical by Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas
Free date: Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
The script: Few Broadway musicals have ever inspired the admiration of critics and audiences as thoroughly as this sublime romantic story set in Italy. Its long-running Lincoln Center production garnered an armload of awards, including six Tonys. Set in the 1950s, a youthful Italian lad is doted on by his Tuscan family. His passions are deeply stirred by a beautiful American tourist, accompanied by her protective mother. When it turns out there are more significant barriers than language to the match, the American mother and Italian family must put aside cherished beliefs if their beloved children can seek happiness together.
Our twist: Theatre Three first introduced Dallas to composer Adam Guettel, Richard Rodger’s grandson, in 2003 with an innovative production of his song cycle Myths & Hymns. Theatre Three’s production of The Light in the Piazza continues its tradition of introducing some of Broadway’s most talented playwrights and composers to North Texas. Theatre Three’s production of The Light in the Piazza is the Texas premiere of the 2005 Tony Award-winning musical.
Back stage: The Light in the Piazza is directed by Michael Serrecchia, an original cast member of the Tony Award winning musical A Chorus Line. Mr. Serrecchia’s first directing assignment at Theatre Three was A Class Act, a musical about the life and career of Ed Kleban, the lyricist of A Chorus Line.
Face time: Connie Coit plays the role of Margaret Johnson, a well-meaning American mother who is trying to shield her daughter from romantic disappointment. Ms. Coit made her professional debut at Theatre Three in the 1970 production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, not long after she graduated from Southern Methodist University. Her career includes New York and international credits, including five tours of Yestin’s Phantom of the Opera. As she puts it, she’s been a part of Theatre Three’s family from “ingénue to menopause”.
This show’s for you if you like: Lush, romantic musicals with modern musical inventiveness. With its extraordinary, Tony Award-winning success, The Light in the Piazza is the musical that made Broadway swoon.
- Performance: Monkey -The Quest to the West
Free date: Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The script: A theatrical adaptation of one of the most beloved Chinese comic novels. The story concerns a supernatural trickster who makes war with heaven.
Our twist: Lightning-fast character changes with a hilarious 21st Century twist.
Backstage: A minimum of set, costumes and makeup and a maximum of imagination.
Face time: Co-creators Laura and Fred are partners in art, life and love.
This show’s for you if you like: Belly laughs, poignancy and deep reflections of life’s mysteries.
Theater: WaterTower Theatre
- Performance: Doubt, A Parable
Free date: Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The script: Father Flynn, a charismatic young priest, is adored by his students; Sister Aloysius, an unbending principal, is pleased by the fear she invokes in them. When Father Flynn begins to take special interest in a new student, Sister Aloysius begins to think the unthinkable. But when a nun’s suspicion is weighed against the word of a priest, how does one determine the truth? The winner of 24 major awards, including the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, Doubt, a Parable is a gripping exploration of the question, “What do you do when you’re not sure?”
Back stage: All of the cast members are former acting students of director Terry Martin.
Face time: M. Denise Lee, who stars as Mrs. Muller, is a respected Dallas-based cabaret singer. She can be seen at local cabaret bars, including Bill’s Hideaway, performing her cabaret act.
This show’s for you if you like: Thoughtful discussion and detailed acting.
Theater: WaterTower Theatre
- Performance: Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn
Free date: Nov. 1 at 8 p.m.
The script: The composer and lyricist of the musicals Falsettos, A New Brain and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, William Finn has been a staple of the American theater for 30 years. At once witty, wistful, neurotic and brave, Finn’s music has been revered by audiences and critics alike. Using a quartet of singers and a single piano, Make Me a Song is a musical celebration of one of our musical theater greats.
Our twist: This is the first show of our Discover Series, which takes place in our 70 seat Studio Theatre. The intimacy of that space means each audience member gets an up-close and intimate experience with the cast and musicians.
Back stage: Cast member Amy Stevenson performed in the first show director James Paul Lemons worked on after moving to Dallas, Plano Repertory Theatre’s My Favorite Year in 1999. Lemons was the stage manager.
Face time: Cast member Amy Stevenson hosts Mama’s Party, a cabaret show featuring performances by local singers, every Monday at Bill’s Hideaway.
This show’s for you if you like: Musicals, William Finn, irreverent melodies
Theater: WingSpan Theatre Company
- Performance: Ghosts
Free dates: Oct. 17 and 24 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 18 and 25 at 2 p.m.
The script: Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts is the story of a mother’s love, a father’s sins and a son’s terrible inheritance that has only grown more powerful with the passing of time. In the course of a day, a family’s history will unravel before our eyes. Ghosts unveils a chilling series of revelations that chips away at traditional family values and cracks the very foundations of decent society.
Our twist: The translation by Lanford Wilson is an area premiere. In this crackling new translation, celebrated American playwright Lanford Wilson has revivified Ghosts for a new audience.
Back stage: Critically acclaimed scenic designer Clare Floyd DeVries re-envisions the Bath House Cultural Center with her innovative design.
Face time: Which Ghosts cast member drives a Mini Cooper? Answer: Bill Jenkins (playing Reverend Manders).
This show is for you if you like: Classic dramas that explore family relationships.