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Guide to Free Night of Theater

by Stephen Becker 11 Oct 2009 9:18 PM

Monday marks your second chance to reserve Free Night of Theater tickets. Art&Seek has assembled a handy guide to help you make your picks.



This is the second week to reserve tickets for Free Night of Theater. This year, 25 Dallas-area theaters are participating in the program.

This is the second year for the ticket giveaway, which is run through the Dallas Office of Culture Affairs.

On Mondays, you will be able to reserve tickets for shows coming up the following weekend. For shows beyond that weekend, you will need to wait until the Monday before those shows to reserve those tickets. Tickets will be available on five consecutive Mondays.

If you would like to reserve tickets, log on to the Free Night of Theater Web site at noon on Monday to make your picks.

We’ll be doing our best to help you chose the show that’s right for you. We’ve asked participating theaters to send us a guide to the shows that they are offering, and we’ll post them in this space as they come in.

Here is a list of shows opening this week. After that, you’ll find guides to future shows.


Show: Blue Beach
Theater: Teatro Dallas
Free Night date(s): Oct. 17 at 8:15 p.m., Oct. 18 at 3 p.m., Oct. 22 at 8:15 p.m., Oct. 25 at 3 p.m., Nov. 5 at 8:15 p.m. and Nov. 6 at 8:15 p.m.
The story: In celebration of Days of the Dead and Halloween, we are presenting Blue Beach, a play that takes place in an unkempt old hotel in the Southern coasts of Mexico. The father of a family, an engineer and a politician, has invited his family to inform them of a problem that affects both the hotel and the family. When he presents them with a plan to save them and the hotel, this invitation opens doors that will reveal some of the family’s darkest secrets. Blue Beach is presented in English.
Back-stage access: Blue Beach is a work of fantasy, a mystery reminding us of the haunting literature of Mexican writer Juan Rulfo.
This show’s for you if you like: Mystery, suspense and stories about the underworld.

Show: Death of a Salesman
Theater: Repertory Company Theatre
Free Night date(s): Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 18 at 2 p.m., Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 24 at 2 p.m.
The story: The play tells the story of Willy Loman (Gary Anderson), a down-on-his-luck, middle-aged salesman, unable to comprehend how or why he never achieved the success and fortune he dreamed of. Linda (Ruth Ellen Heaton), his devoted wife, tries desperately to hold the family together. Powerful and disturbing, Death of a Salesman is a modern tragedy, seen as a caustic attack on the American Dream and our obsession with material wealth and the trappings of success. The Pulitzer-Prize winning Death of a Salesman is considered by many to be Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, as well as one of the most important plays in modern American theatre.
Back-stage access: “We have assembled a very talented cast of actors for this classic” Director Debra Carter says. “The bar is always high for this show. And I particularly like this set design. It really serves the story.”
This show is for you if you like: Classic literature, dynamic story lines and plays about real people

Show: Harvey
Theater: Garland Civic Theatre
Free Night date(s): Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
The story: This classic American gem tells the story of one Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary friend, a 6-foo-tall rabbit. No one other than Elwood sees or hears the rabbit, Harvey. When Elwood starts to introduce Harvey to guests at a society party, his sister, Veta, has seen as much of his eccentric behavior as she can tolerate. She decides to have him committed to a sanitarium to spare her daughter, Myrtle Mae, and their family from future embarrassment. Problems arise, however, when Veta herself is mistakenly assumed to be on the verge of lunacy when she explains to doctors that years of living with Elwood’s hallucination have caused her to see Harvey also! The doctors commit Veta instead of Elwood, but when the truth comes out, the search is on for Elwood and his invisible companion. When he shows up at the sanitarium looking for his lost friend, Harvey, it seems that the mild-mannered Elwood’s delusion has had a strange influence on more than one of the doctors. Only at the end does Veta realize that maybe Harvey isn’t so bad after all. This is a hilarious romp with an endless array of comic characters. A “must see” for the entire family.
Back-stage access: The actors protraying brother and sister are actually husband and wife in their “real” life.
This show’s for you if you like: Lots of fun!

Show: Junie B. Jones & A Little Monkey Business
Theater: Dallas Children’s Theater
Free Night date(s): Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 17 at 4:30 p.m.
The story: Junie B. has two big problems. There’s the imminent arrival of a new “B-A-B-Y,” and she has no idea what to bring for show and tell. After helping Grandpa Miller with odd jobs around the house, Grandma Miller announces that Junie B.’s new brother has been born and he is “the cutest little monkey you ever saw.”  With this news, Junie B. just may have the best show and tell ever, but her self-described “big fat mouth” always seems to get her into a trouble. At school, she shares this exciting information with her classmates. Everyone can’t wait to see, especially her “bestest” friends Lucille, the princess-in-training, and That Grace, the fastest runner in the whole school. In all of the confusion, Junie B. is sent to the office of “The Boss of the School” (the principal). Can the spunky kindergartner talk her way out of this one?
Back-stage access: Junie B. Jones is played by Canadian actress Jessica Jain, who just graduated from the University of Calgary with a BFA in theater.
This show’s for you if you like: pink high tops, crickets, karate, tiaras and monkeys!

Show: A Medal for Murder
Theater: TeCo Theatrical Productions, Inc.
Free Night date(s): Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 23 at 8 p.m.
The story: It’s the day before Veteran’s Day, 1968, in Crook River Falls, Minn. Undertaker Pearl Paycock awaits the arrival of the town’s first casualty of the Vietnam War, and the widow, the escort, the Colonel and others. But is anyone who they say they are? This modern mystery is not a whodunit, but a comedic con game gone gravely awry. There are many twists and turns you won’t want to miss!
Back-stage access: Local playwrights Darryl Allara and Ken Freehil have been creating unique mystery events around the country and overseas for more than 20 years and recently completed two tours for the U.S. Army to Germany, Italy and the U.S.
This show’s for you if you like: A fun night at the theater

Show: Theatre of Death
Theater: MBS Productions
Free Night date(s): Oct. 15, 16, 17, 22 and 28 at 8 p.m.
The story: An evening of seven short plays dating back to the Middle Ages linked by one common thread: Death! Laugh, cry, and be startled and scared as we present a collection of black humor plays dealing with this timeless subject. A woman ironing reveals a secret involving the shirt she is pressing; four inept and clumsy people are trapped and they only have 13 minutes to figure out how they will survive; two brothers share a unique bond that will lead one to murder; a man discovers his wife is having affairs with three different men and decides to confront them.
Back-stage access: Some of the material was so controversial and edgy that actors who came to audition and read the scripts immediately backed out. Curiously enough, some of the plays that caused the most reaction were written in the 1600’s!
This show’s for you if you like: dark-humored plays.

Show: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Theater: Theatre Three
Free Night date(s): Oct. 17 at 2:30 p.m.
The story: This Tony Award winning musical puts six adolescent hopefuls at the microphone for the most important chance of their young lives – a chance to stand out and fit in by winning the spelling bee championship.
Back-stage access: This musical includes audience participation. Members of the audience also have an opportunity to win the spelling bee onstage! Crack open those dictionaries and start studying!
This show’s for you if you like: Spelling, café-gym-a-toriums, school spirit and all of those bittersweet memories of awkward, youthful school days and competitions.

Also available this week:


Show: Premiere!
Theater: Rover Dramawerks
Free Night date(s): Oct. 29, 30 and 31 and Nov. 5, 6 and 7 at 8 p.m.; Nov. 7 at 2 p.m.
The story: A comic look at the petty tyranny of fame from the creator of one of the most famous of petty tyrants. Gil is the comedic playwright of his day, doomed to hit after hit, when he just wants to be taken seriously, darkly, academically. Like…dare he say it? The Bard. A hilarious series of events leads to the discovery of a “new” long lost tragedy by, ahem, William Shakespeare. When does a forgery become art itself? Is truth absolute or a function of aspiration, democracy … and marketing?
Back-stage access: This script mirrors the convergence of real issues and events in Wasserman’s life, especially as it neared its end. Best known for the Tony Award-winning Man of La Mancha, a musical so popular that several productions are running worldwide right this moment, he saw that work as well as most of his other successes as the virtue of the individual against the system, the state, the church and even against fate itself. Usually it’s easy to sympathize with the poor, struggling and failed. So imagine the irony of having lunch with one of the most successful comedic writers of all time 25 years ago to find out he felt trapped and a failure, unable to produce “serious, impacting works.” We’d promised to protect the writer’s name until Martha Wasserman, the playwright’s widow, gives the “ok” – but three Broadway hits in a row kind of narrows it down, eh? To think of this successful writer as trapped is staggering. And there’s only one more powerful name in the world that could do it. Yep, The Bard Himself.
Back-stage access 2: Our leading man has just appeared on the back page of Parade magazine on behalf of Nutrisystem!
This show’s for you if you like: Intelligent comedy with fun characters. And you Don’t need any Cliff’s Notes about Shakespeare either!

Show: Snake in the Grass
Theater: Theatre Too at Theatre Three
Free Night date(s): Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Where there’s a will, there’s a war, so they say. When a father dies (perhaps helped on his way by his younger daughter quadrupling his pills and giving him “only a little push” down the stairs) one wonders: could her actions have been prompted by his changing his will? And who will inherit the estate? That older, colder ex-pat sister, Annabel, who never lifted a finger to help?  Leave it to the brilliant Alan Ayckbourn to surprise us and make us laugh at the extreme tensions of contentious family life – and death!
Back-stage access: Bruce Coleman, who directed Theatre Three’s 2008 production of the double Ayckbourn comedy House & Garden in addition to writing and directing last season’s horror comedy, Look What’s Happened to Pixie DeCosta, is directing Snake in the Grass.
This show’s for you if you like: Ghost stories that will make you scream with laughter!