Best Bets • 02.05.16

Friday 02.05

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Texas Theatre, Cine Wilde team for screening and party of ‘The Hunger,’ honoring David Bowie

The death of the pioneering artist David Bowie continues to resonate, and Cine Wilde — the monthly gay film fest — has paired up again with Texas Theatre to screen one of his most outrageous and stylish films, Tony Scott’s 1983 film The Hunger. Bowie and Catherine Deneuve play modern-day vampires in a cat-and-mouse pursuit of Susan Sarandon. The screening with be followed by a after-party featuring punkish DJ music. Come ready to dance.

DEETS:
The Texas Theatre
231 W. Jefferson Blvd.
9:20 p.m. screening;
11 p.m. after-party
thetexastheatre.com/movies-events/the-hunger

Friday 02.05 — Sunday 02.28

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Dallas Theater Center revisits the Bard with ‘Romeo & Juliet’

For the first four full seasons with Artistic Directed Kevin Moriarty, the Dallas Theater Center performed one of Shakespeare’s plays — a comedy, a history, a tragedy and a so-called romance — each season. The tradition dropped off, though, after King Lear. Well, it’s back, with another of the major tragedies, Romeo & Juliet. Unlike the last four, Moriarty isn’t directing this one (that role falls to the talented Joel Ferrell) and it moves from Downtown’s Wyly Theatre back to the DTC’s Uptown haunts at the Kalita Humphreys.

DEETS:
Kalita Humphreys Theater
3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.
DallasTheaterCenter.org

Saturday 02.13

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BalletBoyz dance troupe makes its Dallas debut with graceful muscularity

With its innovative combination of weightless elegance and brute muscularity, the U.K.’s BalletBoyz is one of the most intensely exciting dance troupes in the world today. The company makes its Dallas debut on Feb. 13 with a sensual performance at the Winspear. This may be the most anticipated local premiere of TITAS’ all-dance season.

DEETS:
Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
8 p.m.
ATTPAC.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC collects more than $138K for NTFB

NTFB Check Presentation - Photo by Dana Driensky (2)

DTC staff presenting check to the NTFB, where many staffers volunteered

For the eighth year, the Dallas Theater Center has taken up donations for the North Texas Food Bank during every performance of his annual holiday show A Christmas Carol. This year’s run of the show netted $138,020.69 for the food pantry, including a $57,000 block donation from an anonymous donor. That pays for nearly half a million meals for those with food insecurity across the Metroplex.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

STAGE REVIEW: ‘Clarkston’

Sam Lilja - Photo by Karen Almond

Sam Lilja as Chris in ‘Clarkston.’ (Photo courtesy Karen Almond)

It’s training day at the Clarkston Costco warehouse. Chris (Sam Lilja) is the veteran, instructing newcomer Jake (Taylor Trensch) on the procedures. They are not complicated: Move this inventory from this box to this shelf; repeat. Show up on time. And try not to break anything. It’s grunt work, but solid employment for the natives of this humble berg on the Idaho/Washington border.

Only Jake isn’t a native. He’s that rarest of birds — a newcomer who seems to want to slow down and take root in this town best known for being a stop on the trail of the Lewis and Clark expedition, a stopover on their route to the Pacific Ocean, and nobody has thought much about it since then. It’s like a lot of small-town life: The dull wallpaper of Americana. So what brings Jake here?

Clarkston, Samuel D. Hunter’s world premiere at the Wyly Theatre (a companion to his prior play Lewiston, also set in the creaky Upper Midwest), has a hint of mystery to it, not unlike most classic-structure character-driven plays, of which this falls firmly within the tradition: Three characters, minimal set, one act (though, at 105 minutes, not a short play). The drama derives from the interpersonal relationships, the reveal of information Jake and Chris secrete and only dole out occasionally. That’s not a lot of forward-thrust to sustain a play (unlike, say, All My Sons the reveals never rise to the level of “caused the deaths of soldiers”), though for the first two-thirds, you don’t really notice: You do get caught up in their lives.

The more interesting life, as it turns out, is Chris’. He’s a hotbed of hidden emotions. Gay but largely closeted, with a meth-head mom (Heidi Armbruster, all day-sweats and trembling lower lip) and absent dad, Chris aspires to be a novelist (he’s applied to the prestigious and exclusive Iowa Writers Workshop) and is saving up money to get out of Clarkston. Jake, though, is the emotional opposite. Out and proud, from a family of means, he over-shares like that person on Facebook we all want to unfriend. But his secrets are more dire: He’s suffering from a form of Huntingon’s disease that should kill him within the decade. He’s looking for real world experiences … which, apparently, include systematically destroying Chris’ life.

Oh, dear. We all have a Jake in our lives. Deeply insecure but defiantly unapologetic, he seeks to live others’ lives for them: Interceding in their affairs, betraying confidences, acting out of spite and malice without thought for consequences. For the first half of Clarkston, you think this will be his story, but it’s really Chris’ — a prosaic tragedy, as if Willy Loman got cut down before he even met Linda. The transition, though, feels abrupt, and when you realize the pain Jake has caused, it’s difficult to sympathize with him at all … which makes the ending (seemingly hopeful, despite everything that came before it) feel tacked-on and inauthentic.

Still, for most of the performance you do get caught up in the details of these lives, their sadness and their specificity. It’s a chamber piece with promise.

Through Jan. 31 at the Wyly Theatre Studio.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Idea: The gift of theater

Networks--Elf-(Boise)-----107-copyThere really are gifts that keep on giving, and a season subscription to a theater company is a real way to have something new for your sweetheart all year long (and provides you both something to do together). North Texas is full of theaters to support, but we recommend Dallas Summer Musicals (you can still get tickets for the first show of the season, Elf, reviewed this week), or get someone in Cowtown a similar lineup from Performing Arts Fort Worth; Uptown Players (which next month kicks off with a bonus show with the Turtle Creek Chorale), WaterTower Theatre, the Dallas Theater Center (which has a gay-themed show running right now) and many more. Support the arts and those on your gift lift.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: DTC announces 2015-16 season lineup

rsDTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty_Photo by Tadd MyersThe Dallas Theater Center will offer up three world premieres, partner with Houston’s famed Alley Theatre and return to Shakespeare in their next season, Kevin Moriarty, the DTC’s artistic director, just announced.

The season will also take place almost entirely at the Wyly Theatre downtown; this season, every show has ping-ponged between the Wyly and Uptown’s Kalita Humphreys Theater. Only Romeo & Juliet, the company’s first stab at Shakespeare since King Lear several seasons ago, will be at the Kalita.

Also, for the first time since the Wyly opened, there will be no summer musical. After Sense & Sensibility closes in late May, the DTC will be dark until the Sept. 2 debut of Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, one of the world premieres announced by Moriarty. Based on the cornpone TV show, it will launch the 2015–16 season, running Sept. 2–Oct. 11 in the Potter Rose Hall at the Wyly.

Concurrently upstairs at the Wyly will be the area premiere of The Mountaintop, the Tony-nominated play about the last night of Martin Luther King Jr. It will run Sept. 11–Nov. 15 in the 99-seat Studio Theatre.

The season will then pick up with the traditional holiday show, A Christmas Carol. Brierley Resident Acting Company member Christina Vela will direct the adaptation by Moriarty, which the DTC has performed for the past two seasons. It will play Nov. 25–Dec. 26.

In a rare double bill during Dickens, the world premiere play Clarkston will run Dec. 3–Jan. 31 in the Studio Theatre. The play is about two men — a descendant of the explorer William Clark and a grad student in gender studies — who explore issues of faith and doubt in modern society. The author is MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipient Samuel Hunter.

In January 2016, the action moves to the Kalita for Romeo & Juliet, directed by Joel Ferrell. It runs Jan. 27–Feb. 28. Then it’s back to the Wyly for the area premiere of All the Way, the Tony Award winner from last Broadway season about LBJ. Moriarty will direct the show, which runs March 3–27.

Deferred Action, the final world premiere, will open from local playwrights David Lozano (Oedipus el Rey) and Lee Trull (A Christmas Carol). It deals with a Dreamer — a young immigrant taking advantage of the Dream Act (April 20–May 15). Finally, DTC returns to the summer musical format with a new presentation of Dreamgirls, the Tony-, Grammy- and Oscar-winning fictionalized telling of Motown and the rise of the Supremes (June 10–July 24).

Season subscriptions go on sale Feb. 9 and are available for as low as $126 (A Christmas Carol is a “bonus” show).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Rocky Horror’ review review: Mary L. Clark responds

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Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, Sept. 23), Dallas Voice’s executive editor of life+style, Arnold Wayne Jones, posted this blog criticizing this review, by Mary L. Clark, associate critic for John Garcia’s The Column, of Dallas Theater Center‘s current production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Arnold’s blog obviously generated a lot of discussion. It has, as I write this, been “tweeted” nine times and “shared” or “liked” on Facebook 401 times. I was out of the office taking photos of Gay World Series opening day games, so I missed the uproar. But I heard about it this morning.

In my email was a response from Mary L. Clark. I read that, then I started reading Arnold’s review of the DTC production and then his post criticizing Mary Clark’s review. Then I got a call from John Garcia. I don’t think he was satisfied with my response because I didn’t agree to delete Arnold’s blog about Mary Clark’s review. What I am going to do, though, is post Mary Clark’s email here on our blog — find it below — and give folks the chance to see what she had to say. I think that’s fair.

And also in the interest of fairness, let me say these two things: I believe that some of the language to which Arnold objected has been changed in Mary Clark’s review posted online at The Column. And John Garcia stressed that some of the language to which Arnold objected — including the word “lifestyle”—  were, in fact, direct quotes from the production’s director, Joel Ferrell, that Mary Clark found in an interview with him elsewhere.

On a personal note, let me say this: I would not EVER presume to critique a theatrical performance or a movie or a restaurant or a theater/movie/restaurant critic. I would totally suck at that. I mean, I loved Sharknado and potato chips and some beef jerky from the corner convenience store are my idea of fine dining. So I don’t feel comfortable criticizing either Mary Clark’s review of the show, Arnold Wayne Jones’ review of the show or of Mary Clark’s review, nor do I feel qualified to comment on John Garcia’s complaint that it is unheard of for one critic to so publicly criticize another’s work.

Here is Mary L. Clark’s response:

Hey Arnold, I got home late yesterday evening and had a call concerning your commentary on DallasVoice.com and the comments posted afterward. Was surprised to say the least and thought it a good idea to go over some things.

First, I didn’t know you read any of The Column’s reviews, so thank you for reading mine. Yes, I am a true Mrs. Malaprop — I did mean “free love” — thanks for the correction.

As for culling from Wikipedia, well not really, but facts are facts. I read several articles on The Rocky Horror Show and, as you read our reviews, you’ve certainly noticed they often include the history of a play or musical as our readers appreciate some background on a piece.

That you didn’t like my writing style, I can’t help you there. We all have our own opinions and I thank you for yours. You wrote your review on the basis of being a gay man and I wrote mine on the basis of not seeing any labels at all.

Apologies to Foe Destroyer — I have a friend named Zoe, and even after proofing three times, the word just went by me. Even you made the same error Arnold, and that’s all it was, a human error.

But now, to the real reason you wrote your commentary, my using the words “lifestyle” and “choice”.

I can see where you would think I meant being gay is a choice. Of course it’s not.

No, the word “choice” refers to being open to one’s beliefs, sexuality, or anything. The word lifestyle is defined as “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, etc. that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group”.

To choose to live your life openly as a gay person is a lifestyle, and that is how I used it. Throughout my adult life I’ve heard many friends and others who are gay talk of it being their lifestyle. I cannot be sorry, as that means that I was at fault. I can, however, apologize if my choice of the words offended you.

The information I got on Joel Ferrell’s vision and choices in directing the musical came from an interview in another magazine where he says, “… we’re going to work to confuse you on gender identity as much and in as many ways as we possibly can”.

Me saying, “I never thought about gender equality when seeing Rocky Horror” means just that. In the 20+ times I’ve watched the film, never once did I view it as a banner for homosexuality. I saw it as a crazy, fun movie about people who weren’t afraid to be who they wanted to be and reveled in their differences. Early college days and being in theatre is a great time to learn about that!

Arnold, you forgot to include that my statement “don’t be worried you are going to be pro-gay rallied or asked to make any choices other than to have a really good time” came AFTER I wrote about the film, and now musical, not offending me, and that we see wilder things on TV, in video games and in magazines. But after my description of the characters, the costumes, and some of the scenes, I did not want our readers to think DTC is rallying around homosexuality any more than they are rallying around heterosexuality . . . and isn’t that the point after all, and what Ferrell was after, to blur the lines?

And here is a good place to note that only you used the phrase “catch gay”. I found it interesting that so many of people that commented jumped on the same phrase, the phrase only you used.

I’m not upset about your commentary. Thank god for free speech. What made me sad, though, were comments made by several people I met after the musical. I’m disappointed that my true self and my beliefs were not reflected in all the fun we were having talking about the show, the clothes everyone was wearing, and the audience reactions. That they met me, hopefully formed some opinion of me, but then made inaccurate decisions about me based on your commentary is truly the saddest part of it all. Oh, what the power of speech can do indeed.

Regards to all,

Mary L Clark

(And yes, Kent Boyer, I worked for Dallas Voice, mainly writing theatre reviews and one huge feature article on being a production assistant for the JFK film while here. So that would be around 1988 – 1990.)

—  Tammye Nash

REVIEW: DTC’s anything-but-rocky, definitely-not-a-horror ‘Show’

Frank (Dan Domenech) and Rocky (Justin Labosco) put on quite a ‘Show.’ Photo by Karen Almond

I have a confession: I was a gay man long before I ever saw The Rocky Horror Show in any of its incarnations, and I intend to remain that way despite the best efforts of The Bachelor. Still, seeing the Dallas Theater Center’s full-on erection of Richard O’Brien’s puzzling, explosive cult classic did not make me more gay … as if that were possible. It’s a musical for people who don’t think of it as musical, a rock opera for those who couldn’t care less about pop music, a drag show for those who don’t know what drag is and a spoof of a genre without a huge following. The Rocky Horror Show is theatrical tofu: All things to all people, if can be almost anything you want it to be.

Except safe. At least, not the way director Joel Ferrell and his team of collaborators at the DTC have turned out this oddly entrenched stage granddaddy, now more than 40 years old but still as relevant (and buoyantly irrelevant) as a piece of witty entertainment can be. The plot — eh; I guess you’d call it that — is about a cross-dressing weirdo with the unlikely name Frank-N-Furter (Dan Domenech) who presides over strange biogenetic engineering that allows him to “create” the perfect mate: a four-percent-body-fat muscle-twink with the haircut of Melchor from Spring Awakening named Rocky (Justin Labosco). Witnesses to all this Tesla-coiled madness are chaste sweethearts Brad (“Asshole!”) and Janet (“Slut!”), played with a look of Wonder Bread by Alex Organ and Morgan Mabry Mason. The sleight-of-hand of the show is: It parodies ’50s-era sci-fi films while undercutting them with the sense of sexual desperation and reckless abandon that you know the actors playing these roles 60 years ago wished they could have imparted.

The intent aside, Rocky Horror has never made clear exactly what universe its spoofiness comes from (though, perhaps, the galaxy of Transylvania). The opening number, “Science Fiction Double Feature,” is a precious “list” song, mentioning old movies like Forbidden Planet, Flash Gordon and The Invisible Man, but the artistic antecedents end there. It has more in common with Kinky Boots than The Day of the Triffids. It’s a musical mashup of the LSD-fueled variety, a trippy, extravagantly tasteless exercise in campy excess. You either get it or you don’t.

I get it — even though I was never one of the teens who traipsed to the mall at midnight on Saturday to throw toast at the screen dressed in fishnets and guyliner. Actually, a lot of the audience members on opening night at the Wyly did just that, and if you had a seat where you could spy the faces of season ticketholders as well as the onstage action, you could tell who was into it and who was flummoxed. Some didn’t get it. But no one was bored.

That’s because Ferrell & Co. have turned a frothy bit of energetic ribaldry into something more resembling a BDSM fashion show. It’s dark and Goth, with Andy Warhol-esque excesses and the punk sensibility of a rave at CBGB, but without the hepatitis and tainted X. The music is provided by the band Zoe Destroyer, in costume and as essential to the show as the actors. Transylvanians dangle from the rafter while a parade of side-show wannabes in Lederhosen, leather and high heels strut around, doing the “Time Warp” while key audience members shout back lines at them. The actors occasional shout back or are caught smiling like Harvey Korman in a sketch with Tim Conway. It’s all very fun. It’s all very funny.

And endlessly entertaining. Heck, you can even buy a goodie bag filled with the accoutrements of interaction — toilet paper, water pistols — to feel like you’re in high school again.

The singing and acting (more about enthusiasm than character development, to be honest) dazzle as the show’s music-box-on-speed style keeps everything moving along like a runaway train. Domenech doesn’t make his entrance until midway into Act 1, and the jolt of electricity he brings almost makes you forget about the plot involving Brad (“Asshole!”) and Janet (“Slut!”), but don’t worry — they take focus back.

Walter Lee Cunningham’s androgynous Columbia is a sly casting choice (it does make Frank seem even gayer) and J. Brent Alford’s Masterpiece Theatre diction turns the role of the narrator into a Stephen Colbert-ish collaborator in the faux duplicity. It’s all raucous and sexy and un-self-censoring — a play that lost its superego when it realized there was fun to be had.

I walked away thinking more about the images — Chamblee Ferguson’s Douglas-Fairbanks-in-Bea-Arthur-drag version of Riff Raff, Liz Mikel’s butch take on Eddie, Mason’s Douglas Sirk-inspired bad girl, Jeremy Dumont’s surefootedness high-kicking in heels and a mane, Labosco’s … well, where do I start? — than the scenes. That makes sense. When you go to the circus, it’s not what ring the acts performed in but the amazement they left you with that matters.

Through Oct. 12.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

An appalling ‘review’ of ‘Rocky Horror’ (not mine)

DTC's-The-Rocky-Horror-Show

Rest assured: Seeing this play won’t make you gay … no matter what The Column says.

OK, I was gonna post my review this morning of Dallas Theater Center’s production of The Rocky Horror Show, but I decided to interrupt that plan to do something I never, ever do: Publicly call out another “review.” (Here’s my review.)

In the theater blog called The Column, Mary L. Clark reviewed the show … at least, that’s what they call it. The first quarter of the nearly 3,000 word piece is culled from Wikipedia, and after that, it delves into press releases and Playbill notes before, somewhere around paragraph 6, finally mentioning the current production.

All of this — and even such cringe-worthy malapropisms are referring to the “free sex generation” (she means, I assume, “free love” — everyone knows, sex is never free) — are tolerable. But as someone who directed my attention to this story pointed out, she refers to out director Joel Ferrell’s “lifestyle choice” being affected by the show.

Ummm…. what?

I really, really thought we had progressed past the point one’s innate sexual orientation was labeled — insultingly, ignorantly, regressively — as a “choice” and a “lifestyle.” She even concludes with this caveat: “I never thought about gender equality when seeing Rocky Horror. … Don’t be worried you are going to be pro-gay rallied or asked to make any choices other than to have a really good time.” OK, poor writing aside, this comes dangerously close to saying, “Rest assured: You can’t ‘catch gay’ watching this show.” It made me throw up a bit in my mouth.

(By the way: I loved the show. And it won’t make you gay anymore than watching Love, American Style as a kid made me straight.)

This weekend, a writer for the New York Times got vilified after referring to TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) as an “angry black woman.” At least she didn’t say being a black woman was a “choice” or a “lifestyle.” I guess we still have a long way to go.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Theater critics bestow awards

Liz Mikel, left, and Tiffany Hobbs, right, were singled out for their performances in ‘Raisin in the Sun,’ directed by Tre Garrett. (Photo courtesy Karen Almond)

The Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum met as usual the first Saturday after Labor Day to hash out our awards for the best of North Texas theater over the preceding 12 months, and the Dallas Theater Center ended up the big winner, with five of its shows receiving citations. Les Miserables, Fortress of Solitude, Oedipus el Rey and its in-repertory pair of Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park (Raisin‘s quasi-sequel) all took home major awards, including direction for the first four. Cast members from many were also recognized, including Liz Mikel and Tiffany Hobbs from Raisin, Allison Pistorious from Clybourne and Steven Walters from Les Miz. Uptown Players, coming off one of its best seasons, also won accolades for two of its shows: The gay comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (for direction and its ensemble) and for The Boy from Oz for its three stars and for its wig and makeup by Coy Covington. My own Actor of the Year winner for 2013, Tina Parker, won note for her performance in Detroit — one of nods to Kitchen Dog Theater, which also produced best new play winner Barbecue Apocalypse by Matt Lyle. WaterTower also fared well, especially for its recent musical Dogfight. The winners — which are voted on by a panel of 12 local theater critics, including me — are hashed out over a luncheon. There are between four and nine winners in each category this year.

The complete list is below.

Direction: Daniel Aukin, Fortress of Solitude (Dallas Theater Center); B.J. Cleveland, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Uptown Players); David Denson, Year of the Rooster (Upstart Productions); Tre Garrett, A Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center) and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Jubilee Theatre); Tim Johnson, Detroit (Kitchen Dog Theater); Terry Martin, Dogfight (WaterTower Theatre); Kevin Moriarty, Oedipus el Rey (Dallas Theater Center); Susan Sargeant, The Diaries of Adam and Eve and Happy Days (WingSpan Theatre Co.); Liesl Tommy, Les Miserables (Dallas Theater Center).

Vanya-Show

The cast of ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ was recognized as best ensemble, as was its director, B.J. Cleveland.

Actor: Adam A. Anderson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Jubilee Theatre); Jaxon Beeson, Stiff (Fun House Theatre and Film); Joey Folsom, Year of the Rooster (Upstart Productions) and Hank Williams: Lost Highway (WaterTower Theatre); Alex Ross, The Boy from Oz (Uptown Players); Garret Storms, for his season of performances; Drew Wall, Nocturne (Second Thought Theatre); Steven Walters, Les Miserables (Dallas Theater Center).

Actress: Tiffany Hobbs, Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center) and Spunk (WaterTower Theatre); Janelle Lutz, The Boy from Oz (Uptown Players); Liz Mikel, Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center); Tina Parker, Detroit (Kitchen Dog Theater); Allison Pistorius, Venus in Fur (Circle Theatre) and Clybourne Park (Dallas Theater Center); Sarah Elizabeth Smith, The Boy from Oz (Uptown Players); Juliette Talley, Dogfight (WaterTower Theatre); Ashley Wilkerson, The Mountaintop (Jubilee Theatre).

Ensemble: Barbecue Apocalypse (Kitchen Dog Theater); Heroes (Stage West); The Echo Room Presents: Her Song (Echo Theatre); Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Uptown Players).

Creative Contribution: Coy Covington for his wig and makeup design for The Boy from Oz (Uptown Players) and wig designs for Pageant (Uptown Players); Clare Floyd DeVries for her set design, Detroit (Kitchen Dog Theater); Jay Dias for his music direction, Nine and Titanic (Lyric Stage); Jeffrey Colangelo and Katy Tye for their movement design, Galatea (Prism Co.); the design team with Trinity Shakespeare Festival, for their season.

New Play or Musical: Barbecue Apocalypse by Matt Lyle (Kitchen Dog Theater); Booth by Steven Walters (Second Thought Theatre); Fortress of Solitude by Itamar Moses and Michael Friedman (Dallas Theater Center); mania/gift by Shelby-Allison Hibbs (Echo Theatre); Stiff by Jeff Swearingen (Fun House Theatre and Film).

Touring Production: Evita (Dallas Summer Musicals); The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess (ATTPAC); Peter and the Starcatcher (ATTPAC); Trick Boxing (Sossy Mechanics).

Special Citations: To Matt Tomlanovich, for reviving the Margo Jones as a busy performance space, opening it to fledgling companies at a reasonable price, and making it available to small festivals, poetry slams, readings and dance groups; and to Lawson Taitte, for his distinguished career in arts criticism.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Heather Kitchen retiring from DTC

Heather Kitchen

Many professions are about forming relationships — some necessary, some welcomed — and when someone clicks with you personally, it makes your job all that much better. In the nearly five years I’ve known Heather Kitchen, she’s been one of the best working relationships I’ve encountered. From the first day we met, she’s greeted me with “Hey, Arnie!” every time she sees me. She has that familiar, dare I say motherly, aura, the kind that makes you feel like you’ve made her day better when in fact it is she who has improved yours.

Since 2011, she’s led the business side of the Dallas Theater Center as its managing director, giving the support that artistic director Kevin Moriarty has needed to make exciting theater and revitalize the 55-year-old institution. By keeping it in the black — and always with a smile — she’s actually contributed to the artistry, and more importantly, the tone of theater in all of North Texas.

So her decision to retire — at 62, she’s been involved in arts administration for 40 years — just as the DTC begins its new season is a personal loss as well as a professional one. She’ll stay on until her successor is found (probably early 2015), but whoever it will be could never replace Heather. She’s someone I’ll miss.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones