WaterTower unveils fringe fest lineup

WaterTower Theatre’s annual Out of the Loop Fringe Festival starts in just seven weeks, and we now know the lineup of shows. Among the artists and groups represented are playwright Vicki Caroline Cheatwood (whose Ruth was one of my top productions of 2012), who will have a reading of her play Manicures and Monuments; Ayana Hampton presenting the irreverent cabaret The Morning After Show; and David Lee Nelson in his one-man show The Elephant in My Closet, about how he “came out” (as a Democrat) to his archly conservative Republican father.

Returning this year will be community fave Amy Stevenson performing her songs; Diana Sheehan reviving last year’s hit cabaret; gay playwright David Parr, pictured, returning with his new show, Pluto is Listening, and QLive — the performing arts branch of Fort Worth’s Q Cinema — presenting Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.

The festival runs March 7–17 at the Addison Theatre Centre. Individual tickets are $10 and an all-festival pass runs $65. Presented by WaterTower Theatre.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Spring Awakening’ tonight at WaterTower

Coming of age

“This rock musical adaptation of an 1891 German play is set against the backdrop of a progressive and provincial late 19th century Germany.  Spring Awakening tells the timeless story of teenage self-discovery and budding sexuality through the eyes of three teenagers.  Haunting and provocative, Spring Awakening celebrates an unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood.  The musical won multiple Tony Awards (8 awards including Best Musical).”

— from WaterTowerTheatre.org

DEETS: WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. 7:30 p.m. $20–$50. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

—  Rich Lopez

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ plays tonight at WaterTower

Green thumbs beware

When a good idea turns into a blood-craving monster plant — well, lives get turned around. WaterTower Theatre premieres the fun and frantic Little Shop of Horrors, where Seymour, a lowly florist, tries to turn his fortune around and ends up with a big mess. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s songs only add to the wacky flair of it all.

DEETS: WTT, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. Through July 31. $30. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

—  Rich Lopez

More entries for your Foote fetish

We review two of the entries in the Foote Festival in the Voice this week — Uptown Players’ The Young Man from Atlanta and WaterTower Theatre’s The Traveling Lady, as well as a review several weeks back of Dallas Theater Center’s Dividing the Estate — but the fest continues with a number of productions coming soon. Some today!

WingSpan Theatre Co. and One Thirty Productions are doing four performances of their staged reading of The Carpetbagger’s Children today and Saturday, with two shows each: 1:30 p.m. matinees and 8 p.m. evening perfofoamnces. Performances take place at the Bath House Cultural Center.

Contemporary Theatre of Dallas opens The Trip to Bountiful, directed by Rene Moreno, tonight at the Greenville Center for the Arts off Lower Greenville Avenue.

Theatre 3 is in previews of its production of The Roads Home, a collection of one-acts. Official opening night is Monday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 09.24.10

Friday 09.24

Corny dogs, here we come
The State Fair of Texas is upon us once again and that means fried foods, dizzying rides and emptied wallets — and it’s totally worth it. We’re still making up our mind on the new fried beer on the menu, but the Texas Fried Frito Pie sounds like a dream and a nightmare for any personal trainer. But who cares? It’s the Fair!

DEETS: Fair Park, 1300 Robert B Cullum Blvd. Through Oct. 17. $15. BigTex.com.

Sunday 09.26

Classic lit without the reading
This image from the cover of “The Great Gatsby” instilled dread among middle and high school students. But AIDS Interfaith Network turns the classic novel about the roaring ’20s into fab times with “The Great Gatsby…Get Your Flap On.” Complete with jazz, bubbly and fundraising, it almost makes you want to read it again. Almost.

DEETS: Union Station, 400 S. Houston St. 2 p.m. $75–$125. AIDSInterfaithNetwork.org

Wednesday 09.29

WaterTower is getting Wilder
Terry Martin does double duty as director and actor in “Our Town,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Thornton Wilder. The tales of the ordinary folk of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire come alive in this season opener for WaterTower.

DEETS: WTT, 15650 Addison Road. Through Oct. 24. $25–$40. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Off & on

WaterTower’s ‘Full Monty’ loses its pants and inhibitions, but only in Act 2

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

The cast of the Full Monty
LET IT GO | Average Joes reveal their Johnsons (sort of) in ‘The Full Monty.’

THE FULL MONTY
Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road.
Through Aug. 15. 972-450-6232.
WaterTowerTheatre.org

Sexual stereotypes aren’t pretty — they can be downright insulting. Which they kind of are in The Full Monty. Yes, I’ll say it: It makes straight men look bad.

The script for the stage musical — which transplants the story from a British factory town to Buffalo, N.Y. — was written by gay playwright Terrence McNally, and frankly, most of the guys come off as cavemen. They make disparaging “fairy” comments about the ripped gay Chippendale (Christopher J. Deaton), traffic in racial clichés and put on mucho macho bravado about their own sexual prowess and manliness. (Doing housework is “woman’s work” in this construct.) What, is this set in 2010 or 1950?

Definitely the former, as the poor economy and unemployment fuels some ordinary Joes’ desperation to make quick money by stripping for the women of the town. Only they are all doughy. And middle-aged. And can’t dance.

The conceit of the show is basically ridiculous, although it has a whimsicality that carries it. At least, it carries the movie; Act 1 of the stage adaptation drags, without a really catchy song until “Big-Ass Rock” (which plays like a Carole King ballad from ’70s — only about suicide). There aren’t any big laughs until Pam Daugherty, as a boozy piano player, coughs her way into the action with droll vulgarity. The Act 1 closing number is an anti-climactic let-down.

But after intermission, things pick up significantly. The plot gets tighter, and resonates more. Composer-lyricist David Yazbek moves from jokey-if-clever lyrics (rhyming “cojones,” “bonus” and “testosterone is”) and anti-melodic through-lines to loves ballads like “Breeze Off the River” and “You Walk with Me” (the latter an emotional song delivered in a breathy, cracked voice by a grieving son and his boyfriend that genuinely milks a tear). And the ending number, “Let It Go” — when the men strip down to their birthday suits — has an infectious hummability.

In addition to Daugherty, Stephen Bates as the tubby, self-conscious Davey, Jason Kennedy as suicidal security guard Malcolm and Guinn Powell as the jiving older black guy do good work, but Michael Isaac, as Jerry, falters: The songs are slightly outside his vocal range. I’d have preferred to see John Venable, who has a minor role and plays in the 11-man band, try his hand at it. Well, maybe not his hand. You catch my drift.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas