Best Bets • 03.11.16

Friday 03.11—Sunday 03.27

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Go under the sea without getting wet at ‘Little Mermaid’

The 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid really kicked off the Disney revolution of animation that is still going on today. And what better film to do it with — a glorious, tune-filled fantasy about a mermaid who becomes human temporarily, but makes a Faustian deal with the evil sea-witch Ursula. Dallas’ Doug Wright — a Tony and Pulitzer winner for I Am My Own Wife — tackled adapting the story for the stage, along with the lovely songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Steven Stater. It’s back in Fair Park for a few weeks of colorful, family-friendly (but also campy) humor and classic characters, dressed in dazzling costumes and lighting effects.

DEETS:
Fair Park Music Hall, 901 First Ave.
7:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. weekend matinees.
DallasSummerMusicals.org

Friday 03.11 — Sunday 03.13

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Texas Ballet Theater heads north for ‘Cinderella’

While Dallas Summer Musicals is telling one fairy tale in Dallas, up in Richardson, Texas Ballet Theater is telling another, with Ben Stevenson’s production of Cinderella. It’s a rare venture away from the Dallas Arts District and Fort Worth’s Bass Hall for the storied company, with beautiful dancers in lush costumes performing to the music of Prokofiev. (The production moves to Bass Hall later this month.)

DEETS:
Eisemann Center for Performing Arts
2531 Performance Drive Richardson
Friday–Saturday at 8 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
TexasBalletTheater.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Shop’ keeper

Little Shop of Horrors may have the catchiest pop score composed for a Broadway musical in the past 30 years. There has been rock-ier, toe-tapping-er, more bombastic music written in that time perhaps, but for the sheer joy of storytelling through sprightly, smart songs? I can think of no comparisons. It remains the only cast album I ever purchased during intermission of its performance; even if there were no songs in Act 2, I reasoned, Act 1 was a worthy investment, starting with the anthemic fugue “Skid Row” and continuing through its pastiche of doo-wop choruses and power ballads like “Suddenly, Seymour.” (The team that wrote it, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, went on to be Disney’s resident writing geniuses: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin.)

The production by WaterTower Theatre, now onstage in Addison, doesn’t do full justice to its very able source material. Long before Avenue Q, Little Shop pioneered the use of puppets to turn kiddie entertainment into something adult and disturbing: It’s Sweeney Todd with jokes.

Or it should be. There are missed comic opportunities in the story of schlubby floral shop worker Seymour (Jason Kennedy) who cultivates a man-eating plant to win the affections of abused shopgirl Audrey (Mary Gilbreath Grim, pictured with Kennedy). There are missteps in the design as well (the normally reliable Aaron Patrick Turner eschews character-appropriate costumes — Audrey for one should be a lot trashier — for pretty, tailored pieces that make no sense). But the magic of the show works its way through.

Grim does an admirable job turning Audrey, so closely identified with Ellen Greene’s idiosyncratic charm on film and stage, into her own creation, and the tango between Seymour and his boss Mushnik (Randy Pearlman) is winsome. But the star of the show is Alex Organ in a host of roles, most notably a sadistic dentist. Organ (gangly, limber, rubber-mugged) commits fully, throws himself physically into every scene. He’s funny, cruel, goofy, protean — and, along with the score, an excellent reason to patronize this Little Shop.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Through Aug. 21. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

‘Victoria Jackson’ hates ‘The Little Mermaid’

Surely by now you have heard about former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson’s rant about the gay kiss on Glee last week. If you missed it, here’s the folks from Showbiz Tonight interviewing her about comments she made on her blog calling the kiss “sickening.”

Now, let’s lighten the mood a little bit and check out this video, posted on YouTube by someone who apparently does not agree with Ms. Jackson, called “Victoria Jackson Speaks Out Against The Little Mermaid.” Watch it after the jump.

—  admin