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2017 IN REVIEW

<em>Passing Strange</em>&nbsp;at Theatre Three

2017: Theater, Part 4

Janice L. Franklin on some of her favorite productions of 2017.



published Friday, December 29, 2017

Photo: Karen Almond
Miller, Mississippi at Dallas Theater Center

 

I didn't see as many productions this year, but I still saw a lot that sticks with me. Here are some of my favorite shows of 2017:

 

Miller, Mississippi

By Boo Killebrew

Dallas Theater Center at the Wyly Theatre, Sixth Floor Studio

This theatrical experience was so powerful that I saw it twice, unusual for me. It was what I describe as 'pure theater'. A good script, and skilled actors who dug in and did their work. As a southerner, I recognized the context. Months later and I still remember the blocking, set design, costumes, nuances and those characters. My thought was that this is what theater is supposed to be. Directed by Lee Sunday Evans.

 

Photo: Jeffrey Schmidt
Passing Strange at Theatre Three

Julius Caesar

by William Shakespeare

House Party Theatre at 508 Park Amphitheatre

The amphitheatre location downtown worked very well for this production. That the female dominant casting worked is a good conversation for this time. Was it because 21st-century audiences are no longer shocked by seeing women cast in powerful male roles? Or was it because the performances engaged the audience in the story and not in who was telling it? Perhaps it was both. I loved this production which benefitted from the wind and ensuing sound effect enhancements. Directed by Sarah Lacy Hamilton.

 

Ruined

By Lynn Nottage

Echo Theatre and Denise Lee Onstage

Bath House Cultural Center, Dallas

It is possible that there are as many reasons to avoid producing RUINED as there are reasons to commit to it. This is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play telling the stories we wish were fictional but know were not. Little if any relief from the tension, which is a hard sell to an audience.  Echo jumped off the cliff with this production and landed on their feet, facing forward with cast that can be proud of its work. Directed by Pam Myers-Morgan.

 

Passing Strange

By Stew and Heidi Rodewald

Theatre Theatre, Dallas

This is a complex work to stage and produce, particularly in an arena space. This is at least in part due to the writer and protagonist being a musician with a limited understanding of how to write a play. Still, vickie washington figured out how to make that work in Theatre Theatre's space. The characters were "out there" and the production team went into all of those places the character dragged us into. Directed by vickie washington.

 

Photo: Cecil Fuqua
Thurgood at Jubilee Theatre

Thurgood

By George Stevens, Jr.

Jubilee Theatre, Fort Worth

This piece could easily become one of the portrayals that attaches to Selmore Haines, one that he could be asked to replay for some time to come. It was clean, pointed, and interesting. Directed by Harry S. Parker. Good news: This same production, with actor/director, will be performed in February 2018 at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center.

 

Stiff

By Sherry Jo Ward

Risk Theater Initiative at Bath House Cultural Center and Stage West

I will remember this production because of its honesty. Ward talked with the audience as if we had an existing relationship that she was taking to the next level through intimate conversation. Directed by Marianne Galloway.

 

Hair

By James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot

Dallas Theater Center at Wyly Theatre

I cannot think of a misstep with Hair. The concept was fanciful and the cast wonderful. I think I had the most fun in this production than any of the others, and that is what should happen with Hair. Directed by Kevin Moriarty.

 

Inherit the Wind

By Robert E. Lee and Jerome Lawrence

Dallas Theater Center at the Kalita Humphreys Theater

Again, the concept while unexpected, worked. Strong actor performances and a proven script did the rest. Directed by Kevin Moriarty. Thanks For Reading





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2017: Theater, Part 4
Janice L. Franklin on some of her favorite productions of 2017.
by Janice L. Franklin

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Readings UNT Dance and Theatre The Dallas Opera Every Brilliant Thing Open Classicial Melinda Massie Pancho Villa Bread Dallas Black Dance theatre Spring Celebration How Embarrassing for Her Undermain New Play Readings Uncanny Valley The Automobile Graveyard Where the Earth Meets the Sky Stagewest New Play Readings UNT Dance and Theatre The Dallas Opera Every Brilliant Thing Open Classicial Melinda Massie Pancho Villa Bread Dallas Black Dance theatre Spring Celebration How Embarrassing for Her Undermain New Play Readings Uncanny Valley The Automobile Graveyard Where the Earth Meets the Sky Stagewest New Play Readings UNT Dance and Theatre The Dallas Opera Every Brilliant Thing Open Classicial Melinda Massie Pancho Villa Bread Dallas Black Dance theatre Spring Celebration How Embarrassing for Her Undermain New Play Readings Uncanny Valley The Automobile Graveyard Where the Earth Meets the Sky Stagewest New Play Readings UNT Dance and Theatre The Dallas Opera Every Brilliant Thing Open 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