Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

Broadway Lights, Southern Living in Dallas Theater Center’s Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical

As a follow-up to her Best New Artist Grammy nomination last year, country singer-songwriter Brandy Clark moves from music to musical theater. It’s not as surprising as it once might have been, but her source material might be: Hee Haw. Clark and her frequent collaborator Shane McAnally both watched the down-home variety show growing up.

Read More

We’re All Invited to Dallas Star Linda Gray’s 75th Birthday Celebration

When the actress Linda Gray, a native Californian, was cast as Sue Ellen Ewing in the late ’70s, her character was a bit part on what was supposed to be a five-episode miniseries. But Dallas exploded, becoming one of the most popular and iconic shows in the world. Gray became famous, Sue Ellen—the well-coifed, long-suffering, and perpetually drunk wife of Larry Hagman’s devilish J.R.—became notorious, and the Ewings and their home on Southfork Ranch became synonymous with the city. Gray’s memoir, The Road to Happiness, released this month to coincide with her 75th birthday, reveals details about her first and only marriage, her sister’s death from cancer at age 43, and the sexism she faced on the Dallas set. We chatted with Gray about her lasting friendship with her co-stars, the joy of returning to Dallas in 2012, and when it’s time to put a beloved character away.

Read More

How Fun House Theatre Trains the Next Best Actors in Dallas

Four years ago, Jeff Swearingen almost quit teaching acting to kids, something he’s done for more than 10 years. Bren Rapp, his Fun House co-founder, had a proposal: a program with all of the stuff Swearingen liked about teaching, and none of the stuff he didn’t.

Fun House, an entertainment-oriented arts education organization, has distinguished itself by teaching children, ages 6 to 17, performance with adult playwrights like David Mamet and Edward Albee. When necessary, Swearingen adapts the work himself. Daffodil Girls, inspired by Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, racked up three honors from the 2013 DFW Critics Forum Awards; one of Swearingen’s original plays, Stiff, was praised last year.

No other children’s theater in town is reviewed so consistently, let alone so well. This month, Fun House will put on Sam Shepard’s True West just as it was written, starring a real-life pair of brothers, alongside Speed-the-Plow, another Mamet play. Swearingen will also star in a solo show that he wrote, and play Mercutio in Shakespeare Dallas’ Romeo and Juliet. Mercutio might be a role he’s always wanted, he says, but his favorite thing to do is make his charges laugh.

Read More

How Kitchen Dog Theater’s New Works Festival Adds Up

Someone who knows a thing or two about producing new work told me last year that it’s a dangerous thing to put on a play for the first time. The development process of readings, notes, and rewrites can eventually become a crutch. You never have to worry about actually getting it right, because you’re always worrying about trying to get it right.

Kitchen Dog Theater has confronted—if not courted—that danger for the better part of two decades. It produced its first New Work Festival in 1999, a year after it helped found the National New Play Network with a group of like-minded theaters interested in confronting the necessary problem of giving life to the work of unknown authors. The risk is, of course, enormous: words on paper, still untouched and perfect, might not be able to support the weight of actors, lights, a set.

But every year, Kitchen Dog commits about 20 percent of its budget to a five-week festival that Tina Parker, co-artistic director, jokingly calls “death by art.” Here’s how it comes together.

Read More

Our Productions Dallas Brings Something New to an Overstuffed Theater Scene

Our Productions Theatre Co. has produced family-friendly fare in Lewisville and Flower Mound for 23 years. But after artistic director Stephanie Riggs moved from Flower Mound to Dallas, she wanted to do something more appropriate for a city audience. She roped in Mark Mullino and Brad Baker as co-artistic directors and launched Our Productions Dallas in January.

Read More

Elevator Project: How Smaller Companies Made It To the Arts District

David Denson, the programming manager at AT&T Performing Arts Center, approached Kyle Lemieux last April. Denson, who had recently taken over as artistic director of Upstart Productions, another roving theater group, asked Lemieux if he would be interested in an idea he was pitching: small, nimble companies producing a piece in an Arts District venue at a previously unheard-of price.

Read More

Writer Will Power Talks New Musical Stagger Lee at Dallas Theater Center

The plot concerns folk heroes—two couples, Billy and Delilah, Frankie and Johnny—and the enigmatic specter of Stagger Lee, who pops up as the characters attempt to make their way in the world.

Read More