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Monday Morning Roundup

by Stephen Becker 19 Aug 2013 7:43 AM

Previewing Dallas Opera’s robot invasion, reviewing Theatre Three’s forgotten farce and a notable acting death with Dallas ties.


BOTS UNDER THE BATON: Last fall, composer Tod Machover came to town to preview his opera Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera. The piece is exactly what it sounds like – a story of a post-human world starring robots, who do the singing and dancing. The Dallas Opera will present the show in February, and details of how it will be staged are coming into view. From a New York Times profile of Machover:

Mr. Machover plans to live-stream the last performance to 10 locations — but with a twist. Remote viewers will be able to see it from different vantages, including those of the robots. A central feature of the Norman Foster-designed Winspear Opera House in Dallas is the highly theatrical, computer-controlled Moody Foundation Chandelier, which can produce subtle changes in color. As it happens, it uses the same kinds of controls as Mr. Machover’s chandelier. “So we’ll almost certainly do something where their chandelier and our chandelier talk together,” Mr. Machover said. “In fact, we’ll probably let audience members in these venues have a role in what happens with this chandelier.”

FORGOTTEN FARCE: If you know the name Maurine Dallas Watkins, it’s most likely because she wrote the play on which the musical Chicago is based. But that’s not the only show she wrote; Theatre Three is currently producing one of her lesser-known works, So Help Me God! The farce shares some of  Chicago‘s storylines as it, too, concerns a diva actress trying to fend off an up-and-comer. So is this show worth revisiting? Lindsey Wilson says maybe. “The ‘more is more’ maxim makes it tough to build to a satisfying conclusion when the show already starts out at a sprint,” she writes on Front Row. “Perhaps it’s better to just abandon any hope of real characterization, let the barbs fly, and enjoy America’s true blood sport: the theater.” Meanwhile, David Novinski says there’s some good and some bad. “Director Terry Dobson helms this production but is in no way alone in the fight for a handhold,” he writes on “The capable cast members are all trying but, for their efforts, some get a grip and some a slip.” Give it a try through Sept. 1.

A NOTABLE DEATH: August Schellenberg was born in Montreal, but the actor made his home in Dallas. You’d probably remember him best for his role in the Free Willy films, but he also played Chief Sitting Bull in HBO’s Bury My Heart at Wounded KneeSchellenberg died Thursday at his home here after battling lung cancer. He was 77.