Dallas Loves Nice Work If You Can Get It!

Original Post: Monday, September 8, 2014 at 11:30am
Updated Post: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 12:55pm

Hello DSM fans!

This is your go to post for all things NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT! Check out our inside look into the show with behind the scenes footage! Also, check out the great interviews with the cast, reviews from the critics, and articles about the show. We’ll be updating this frequently, so check back later for more!



Behind the Scenes of Nice Work If You Can Get It – News Feature on CW33 NewsFix:

Performance by Mariah MacFarlane (Billie Bendix) singing “Someone to Watch Over Me” on KTXD – The Broadcast TV:

Alex Enterline (Jimmy Winter) performing “Nice Work If You Can Get It” on Good Morning Texas (WFAA):

Interview with ensemble member and Highland Park native Carl DeForrest Hendin on WFAA – Midday News 8:

Highland Park alum Carl DeForrest Hendin talks ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ with Nancy Churnin from The Dallas Morning News:



Here’s what the Dallas audience had to say about the show on Opening Night:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbEL-xUK-wU?rel=0]

“Theater review: ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ will brighten your life” by Nancy Churnin with The Dallas Morning News:

“You Can Get It: The tour of the newish Gershwin show Nice Work If You Can Get It launches in Dallas, and delights all the way.” by Cheryl Callon with TheaterJones:

Nice Work if You Can Get It Kicks off the Dust and Bursts with Sass” by Lindsey Wilson with D Magazine:

“Nice Work If You Can Get It” by Gary Murray with Selig Film News:

“Theater Review: “Nice Work If You Can Get It” Is Top-Notch Entertainment” by James McDonald with Red Carpet Crash:

Review from The Flash List:

“Nice Work If You Can Get It kicks off national tour in Dallas” by Lea Ann Stundins from Mommys Wish List:

The Clubhouse Podcast:
Podcast Listen: http://podcasts.theclubhousepodcast.com/Podcasts/Season_5/iTunes_Exclusive_Episode_Nice_Work_If_You_Can_Get_It.mp3

Rob’s Review – http://www.theclubhousepodcast.com/#!news/nws1/F38570EA-0277-42AC-A509-B3EA49B47659/rob-reviews-%22nice-work-if-you-can-get-it%22

Chad’s Review – http://www.theclubhousepodcast.com/#!news/nws1/C299CE45-1AE3-4A29-B3A2-4FC14DA72686/chad-reviews-%22nice-work-if-you-can-get-it%22

Don’s Review – http://www.theclubhousepodcast.com/#!news/nws1/5355E2FA-C685-4987-918E-AE1CE2419DEF/don-reviews-%22nice-work-if-you-can-get-it%22

Review by John Strange with Selig Film News:

Quick Review by Elizabeth Ygartua with People Newspapers:

“See what’s so “Delishious” about Nice Work If You Can Get It at DSM!!” by Vanna Collins:

Review by Richard Blake with The Column:



Sneak Peek at Scenes from the show:

Playbill.com Article – PHOTO CALL: “Sweet and Lowdown”; A First Look at the National Tour of Tony-Winning Nice Work If You Can Get It:

Nancy Churnin with The Dallas Morning News:  Top 5 Theater Picks:

Nancy Churnin with The Dallas Morning News Feature Article – “Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall happy about ‘Nice Work’”

Nancy Churnin with The Dallas Morning News Feature Article – “Highland Park HS pitcher taps in ‘Nice Work’ at DSM”:

Keep checking back for more exciting videos, photos, and more!

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT is on stage now thru September 14th at the Music Hall at Fair Park, then will be at Bass Performance Hall September 16-21! Tickets on sale now – go to http://www.dallassummermusicals.org/nicework.html for tickets and details!

See you at the theater!

-DSM Amanda



It’s official! We have announced our 2014/2015 DSM Season! Last Thursday, June 12th, at the Centennial Building on Fair Park Grounds, we announced our season show by show alongside Performing Arts Fort Worth, and it was an amazing evening!

In case you missed it, here are the shows coming to DSM for the 2014/2015 Season:


KINKY BOOTS – February 24 – March 8, 2015

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s THE KING & I – March 20 – April 5, 2015

THE ILLUSIONISTS – April 7-19, 2015

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA – June 9-21, 2015

DIRTY DANCING – June 23 – July 5, 2015

PIPPIN – July 7 – 19, 2015

All performances are at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

For photos from some of the shows, check out our slideshow at the bottom of this post!

This year, we’re celebrating our 75th Anniversary and our deeply rooted history. Since we opened the doors at the Fair Park Band Shell in 1941, we’ve been bringing the best of Broadway to the Dallas area! We hope you will join us next season to celebrate with us!

Check out this video for a sneak peek at each show:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jpwVJ4dTX0?rel=0]

Also, in case you hadn’t heard, we’re partnering up with Performing Arts Fort Worth for 4 of our shows: KINKY BOOTS, CINDERELLA, DIRTY DANCING, AND PIPPIN! These shows will play 2 weeks here at DSM in Dallas, then travel to the Bass Performance Hall for a one-week engagement. We are very excited to be working closer with PAFW and hope that this will help bring more people to see live theatre!

Season tickets, priced from $140-$775, are now on sale online at www.dallassummermusicals.org, and at The Box Office, 5959 Royal Lane, Suite 542 in Dallas. Subscribers may order by mail or in person at The Box Office, by phoning 214-346-3300, by faxing 214-691-7386, or purchase online at www.dallassummermusicals.org. For groups of 10 or more, please call 214-426-GROUP.

Season subscribers enjoy such benefits as first opportunity to get the best seats available for the season, plus huge savings over single ticket prices and easy payment plans, lost ticket replacement, ticket exchange privileges and a 20% discount on all DSM logo merchandise. Plus, season subscribers have first option on their seats for the following season, and can save up to $97 over the cost of single tickets.

Also, for your enjoyment, check out some of the news articles about our season announcement!

You can also check out this video from WFAA Good Morning Texas – Ellen Marie Marsh (from Kinky Boots) performing “History of Wrong Guys” and an interview with our President and Managing Director Michael Jenkins discussing the new season!

We’re so excited about our upcoming season, and we hope you are too! For more information about each show, season tickets, etc., please visit our website at www.dallassummermusicals.org.

We’ll see you at the theater!

-DSM Amanda

Dallas Loves Evita, on stage now thru April 27th!

Originally posted on April 18, 2014 at 9:04am
Updated on April 25, 2014 at 5:20pm

Hello DSM fans!

This is your go to post for all things EVITA THE MUSICAL! Check out our inside look into the show with behind the scenes footage! Also, check out the great interviews with the cast, reviews from the critics, and articles about the show. We’ll be updating this frequently, so check back later for more!


Josh Young (Che in EVITA) performed the National Anthem at the Texas Rangers game on Monday, April 14th. Click here to see it! (Please note, the beginning was accidentally cut off from the video.)

Krystina Alabado (Mistress in EVITA) performed “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” on The Broadcast TV. Click here for the performance.

Interview with Alison Mahoney (Ensemble in EVITA) on CW33 Nightcap. Click here for the interview.

Katerina Papacostas (Evita u/s in EVITA) performed “Buenos Aires” on WFAA Good Morning Texas on Thursday, April 17th. Click here for performance.

Alison Mahoney (Ensemble in EVITA) on StageTalk.net. Click here for interview.

Josh Young interview on WFAA Midday News. Click here for interview.


Check out our Opening Night Interviews with the Dallas audience!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd6LJz7NmI0?rel=0]


“Impeccable ‘Evita’ national tour is a stunning success in Dallas” by Nancy Churnin, The Dallas Morning News – Click here for full review.

“Evita” by John Garcia, The Column – Click here for full review.

“Theater Review: ‘Evita'” by Mark Lowry with Fort Worth Star Telegram – Click here for review.

“Nothing to Cry About” by David Novinski with TheaterJones.com – Click here for review.

“EVITA-THE MUSICAL” by Gary Murray with Selig Film News – Click here for review.

“Evita – Dallas Summer Musicals Review and Interview with Krystina Alabado” by Gadi Elkon – Click here for review and interview.

“Musical Theater Review: EVITA” by Sherri Tilley with The Flash List – Click here for review.

“Evita: The Broadway Musical Now In Dallas At Dallas Summer Musicals” by Vanna Collins – Click here for the review.

“Evita” by Drew Jackson, EDGE Dallas – Click here for review.


Q&A with Josh Young on TheaterJones with Cathy O’Neal – Click here for interview!

“Tony nominee Josh Young is playing Che a new way” by Nancy Churnin, The Dallas Morning News – Click here for the full article.

Check out our photo album full of behind the scenes pics of the cast around Dallas!

Spiritual Leader of the Nation: Eva ‘Evita’ Perón of Argentina – Click here for the DSM blog post.

EVITA and Argentine History – Click here for the DSM blog post.

Things to Know About The Revival of EVITA – Click here for the DSM blog post.

EVITA – A Historical Background for Characters – Click here for the DSM blog post.

A Timeline of Events: EVITA and Eva Perón – Click here for the DSM blog post.


Keep checking back for more exciting videos, photos, and more!


EVITA is on stage now thru April 27th at the Music Hall at Fair Park! Tickets start at $15 – go to www.dallassummermusicals.org/shows_evita.shtm for tickets and details!

See you at the theater!

-DSM Amanda

We Will Rock You The Musical in Dallas!

Originally posted on 3/11/14 at 4:05pm
Updated on 3/14/14 at 1:05pm

Hello DSM and WE WILL ROCK YOU fans!

This is your go to post for all things WE WILL ROCK YOU! Check out our inside look into the show with behind the scenes footage! Also, check out the great interviews with the cast, reviews from the critics, and articles about the show. We’ll be adding more as the show continues, so keep checking back here!


Inside Look Videos and Photos

Ruby Lewis Photo Exclusive on Playbill.com – http://www.playbill.com/news/article/186790-PHOTO-EXCLUSIVE-Scaramouche-Scaramouche-On-the-Road-With-We-Will-Rock-You-Leading-Lady-Ruby-Lewis?tsrc=hph

Sneak Peek Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak0lKa8h5FA

The Cast of WE WILL ROCK YOU in Dallas Photo Album – https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152388497178465.1073741841.23412623464&type=3

Interviews and Performances

Interview with Ruby Lewis by Nancy Churnin with The Dallas Morning News – http://artsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/we-will-rock-you-star-ruby-lewis-talks-about-rocking-the-music-hall-at-fair-park.html/

The Broadcast TV Performance with Brian Justin Crum and Ruby Lewis – http://www.ktxdtv.com/story/24892146/we-will-rock-you

Interview with Ryan Knowles for StageTalk.net – http://www.prophotography.com/stage/WWRY/index.html

Performance on Good Morning Texas with with Brian Justin Crum and Ruby Lewis – http://www.wfaa.com/good-morning-texas/We-Will-Rock-You-cast-rocks-the-GMT-stage-248856711.html

Interview with Erika Peck by Gadi Elkon – http://gadielkon.com/2014/03/will-rock-dallas-summer-musicals-interview-erika-peck-oz/#.Ux9zx7Q_wik

Interview with P.J. Griffith by TheaterJones – http://www.theaterjones.com/ntx/features/20140303103358/2014-03-04/QA-PJ-Griffith


Opening Night Video – http://youtu.be/Z1EVcHW5Opg

Kory with CBS Radio – KVIL – http://kvil.cbslocal.com/2014/03/10/korys-review-we-will-rock-you-dallas-summer-musicals/

John Garcia with The Column Online – http://thecolumnawards.org/columnonline/review/03-05-2014_WE-WILL-ROCK-YOU/

Thor Christensen with The Dallas Morning News – http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/arts/headlines/20140305-review-jukebox-musical-we-will-rock-you-nails-queens-camp-and-swagger-in-dallas-premiere.ece

Punch Saw with Fort Worth Star Telegram – http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/03/05/5623985/stage-review-we-will-rock-you.html

Gary Murray with Selig Film News – http://seligfilmnews.com/2014/03/will-rock/#.Ux9zs7Q_wik

Shari Goldstein Stern with White Rock Lake Weekly – http://whiterocklakeweekly.com/view/full_story/24703341/article-THEATER-Queen-s-music-transforms-DSM-s-rockin–stage

Dallas Voice – http://www.dallasvoice.com/consciences-queen-10169104.html

Keep checking back for more videos, articles, and much much more!

-DSM Amanda

Article – Bullybust partners with ‘Wicked’ to teach kids to be upstanders

“Bullybust partners with ‘Wicked’ to teach kids to be up-standers”
by Nancy Churnin from The Dallas Morning News

The moment in Wicked that makes Darlene Faster’s arms tingle is not “Defying Gravity,” when Elphaba, the green-faced witch, rises up in the air to fulfill her destiny. It’s an earlier, quieter one when Glinda, suddenly ashamed of ridiculing Elphaba at school, starts dancing with her, which leads everyone to quiet down and dance, too.

Faster, the chief operating officer of the National School Climate Center and the force behind its Bullybust program, says this scene shows kids how a bully can become an “upstander,” someone who stands up when people are treated badly.

“It’s powerful from a youth perspective,” Faster says. “It’s the kind of moment where anyone who has ever been bullied has said, ‘I wish I had a moment where someone had been there for me and been by my side.’ It’s the moment where everything starts to turn.”

Dallas Summer Musicals is presenting the show at Fair Park Music Hall through May 5. Many have wondered about the enduring, passionate following for this musical about the seemingly “bad” and “good” witches of Oz. To Faster, it seems clear that it’s because the questions it raises still resonate: Should we pick on those whom others mock to maintain our spot in the “cool” crowd, or should we find the courage to defend and befriend the “misfits” even at the cost of our own popularity?

With kids suffering from bullying around the country, these ideas have made Wicked a wickedly good fit for her program, which draws on the U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines for effective bully-prevention practices.

Partnering since 2009 with the show’s producers, Faster has helped develop study guides for adults to use with kids. Wicked has also sponsored essay contests with the winners posted on the bullybust.org website. There’ll be another in the fall.

Bullybust has grown rapidly across the country, supporting more than 2,400 partner schools, but only a handful — fewer than 10 — Dallas-Fort Worth schools are currently enrolled. Faster hopes the show’s presence in Dallas will encourage adults to engage kids in conversation and download her nonprofit company’s free materials to take the next step.

She hopes, ultimately, that it will inspire people to reach out to the bullies as well as the victims.

“The kids who are doing bullying behavior are not bad people, they are just doing bad, incorrect things. They need support to learn how to transform from a bully to being an upstander.”

Wicked continues through May 5 at Fair Park Music Hall, 909 First Ave., Dallas. $40-$170. 214-691-7200. dallassummermusicals.org or ticketmaster.com/wicked. Learn more about Bullybust at bullybust.org.

Follow Nancy Churnin on Twitter @nchurnin.

Originally posted in The Dallas Morning News on Friday, April 12, 2013.

Xanadu Gets a Rave Review!


Theater review:  Summer Musicals’ ‘Xanadu’ beats Broadway version

11:22  PM CDT on Tuesday, April 6, 2010

By LAWSON TAITTE  /  The  Dallas Morning News ltaitte@dallasnews.com

They’ve turned lots of old movies into musicals. Xanadu  sets the        record for improvement; it’s the best musical from the  worst film.

The 1980 Olivia  Newton-John stinkeroo did produce a lot of hits by  Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynneand the star’s favorite songwriter, John Farrar.  Two seasons ago, a stage version opened on Broadway with a new book by  comic playwright Douglas Carter Beane (who penned Give It Up! for  the Dallas Theater Center earlier this        year). It was a surprise  hit with critics and audiences alike. The        national tour hit the  Dallas Summer Musicals on Tuesday with an        explosive bang.

This company belongs to the growing number of tours that  actually play better on the road than they did on the Great  White Way. Many Broadway producers seem to feel they  must cast names recognizable to New York audiences, and that’s a limited  pool of talent. You can’t really call many of these performers stars in  the old sense, and the shows surely aren’t tailored to them.  Fortunately for us out here in the sticks, the producers feel free to  use less-familiar faces, sometimes much more able in their roles, on  tour.

Thus, the gorgeous Anika Larsen, as the muse Clio who  falls in love with a California painter, really looks like a goddess  and sounds like one, too. As the clueless artist, Danny, Max  von Essen is funnier and more consistent in his Valley  Boy accent (and a more secure singer) than his Broadway predecessor.

The superiority in this production continues pretty much all  the way down the line. Natasha Yvette Williams and Annie Golden are  especially delicious as the comic villains. As the aging owner of the  building Danny wants to turn into a roller derby, Larry Williamsturns a dreary role into a lovable one.

Xanadu  played in the smallest house on Broadway, but it feels         liberated, rather than dwarfed, in the immensity of Fair Park Music         Hall. The audience catches all of Beane’s well-crafted in-jokes. This  is        one self-reflective musical that doesn’t take itself too  seriously, or        seriously at all.

Thanks to  Christopher Ashley’s witty direction and Dan Knechtges’        inventive  choreography, Xanadu might just be the best time you        have  at a musical this season.

PLAN YOUR LIFE:  Through April 18 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs        100 mins. $15 to  $71. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, www.ticketmaster.com


To see the review on The Dallas Morning News’ website, follow this link: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/ent/stories/DN-xanadu08_0408gd.State.Edition1.41785f7.html


'Legally Blonde' shimmys to the stage at Fair Park Music Hall

12:06 AM CDT on Wednesday, July 22, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning Newsltaitte@dallasnews.com

You may not come out of Legally Blonde humming the tunes, but this show will leave you as pumped as a two-hour cardiac workout.

The stage adaptation of the popular movie, a modest hit on Broadway, arrived at the Dallas Summer Musicals on Tuesday. It keeps up a breathless pace as heroine Elle Woods, the seemingly shallow blond bombshell who follows an ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School, discovers a whole new perspective on life.

Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, who rewrote their Sarah, Plain and Tall for the Dallas Theater Center this spring, tell the story mostly in song. Their lyrics, as cute and clever as Elle herself, are worthy successors to those of their great Broadway predecessors. They give us good tunes, too, but the incessant melodic patterns seldom relax and luxuriate. They just keep percolating like a triple shot of espresso.

The real mover of this theatrical whirlwind, though, is director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell. Over the last decade, he has established himself as one of the American theater’s great storytellers through movement. Like the score, the dancing seldom settles into a stand-alone number, at least before intermission. Throughout the musical someone onstage is stepping, shimmying or gyrating in ways that move the plot along. The second act finally gives us some release with production numbers based on exercise videos, sexy poses and, of all things, Irish step dancing.

As Elle, Becky Gulsvig looks a lot like the film’s Reese Witherspoon. She sounds even more like Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. (Those with strong negative reactions to squeaks and other high pitches may find themselves at risk.) Gregg Barnes’ costumes expand the boundaries of pink, mauve, hot pink and not-quite-crimson. Gulsvig wears them smashingly.

For those who crave a bit of old-fashioned fun from their musical comedies, preferably with a smidgeon of uplift and optimism, with a bevy of shapely young bodies to boot, Legally Blonde is guilty as charged.

PLAN YOUR LIFE Through Aug. 2 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 160 mins. $15 to $85. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.

Trackback to original review post on dallasnews.com

Theater review: 'A Chorus Line' reclaims its energy at Fair Park Music Hall

11:55 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 7, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning Newsltaitte@dallasnews.com

A Chorus Line is a unique musical, a perfect musical. I’m not sure, in retrospect, it’s one of the great musicals.
The tour based on the recent New York revival arrived at Fair Park Music Hall on Tuesday. It has restored the show’s vivid energy and sharp characterizations, and it makes nearly as good a case for the piece as possible. To paraphrase one of Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban’s songs, it scores dance 10, acting 10, singing maybe a six.

At one point the longest running show in Broadway history, A Chorus Line grew out of workshop-style discussions organized by director-choreographer Michael Bennett. He asked professional dancers, gypsies from Broadway chorus lines, to talk about their lives. Then he, with librettists James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, made a show out of their stories.

The musical, without an intermission, is built around a day of auditions. It also takes its shape from the process of putting together a big production number, from the first rudimentary steps to the high-strutting, show-stopping climax.

The personalities of the individual characters are indelible, but over the years productions have tended to blur or exaggerate them. Bob Avian and Baayork Lee, both part of the original process in 1974 and ’75, have whipped things back into shape beautifully.

Emily Fletcher, for instance, nails Sheila’s aggressive sensuality without making her too hard, and Bryan Knowlton, as Paul in the first week of the current run, keeps his dignity while making his sometimes shocking self-revelations.

I’ve never seen a completely satisfactory Cassie. Robyn Hurder at least dances the role better than most. Part of the problem is inherent: The starring role in this musical is that of a woman who keeps insisting she doesn’t have star power or star pretensions.

Hamlisch’s tunes retain their hummability, albeit in very ’70s fashion. Kleban’s lyrics tell the dancers’ stories with considerable wit. Most of all, Bennett knew how to build a dance number.

Still, a nagging little voice keeps telling me that a really great musical should have characters who interact with each other and should be about something other than getting a job, even if the people do their jobs for love.

PLAN YOUR LIFE Through July 19 at Fair Park Music Hall. 130 mins. $15 to $85. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.

Theater review: 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' is a fun ride for the family at Fair Park Music Hall

12:36 AM CDT on Wednesday, June 24, 2009

By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News



Cute kids. A quartet of hilarious villains. A whole pack of trained dogs. A production number with a samba that sizzles. What more could a family musical possibly need?


How about a magical car that floats, flies and makes people ask it nicely if they want a ride?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang chugged, sailed and soared into Fair Park Music Hall for the Dallas Summer Musicals on Tuesday. This road version more than lives up to the standard the Broadway version set in 2005. Largely overlooked in a bumper year for musicals, it struck me as the best Broadway family show since The Lion King. This tour, adapted and directed by Ray Roderick, sacrifices a bit of grandeur but gains in comic spontaneity.
Ian Fleming, an unlikely children’s writer, shows his hand as the original storyteller in various ways: There are spies, though they’re played for laughs. And recall that James Bond’s cars always had tricks up their sleeves, just like the title vehicle here.

Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman’s songs are almost as infectious as the ones they created for Mary Poppins. And, frankly, the plot in this show is more appealing. The father, hapless inventor Caractacus Potts (Steve Wilson), has boundless affection for his children (Jeremy Lipton and Camille Mancuso at Tuesday’s performance). They all look after the grandfather (Dick Decareau), and the kids know before the dad does that there’s chemistry brewing with a motorcycle-driving heiress (Kelly McCormick).

None of the performers are household names, but they’re all solid pros and often more aptly cast than their Broadway counterparts. Dirk Lumbard is delightfully oily as the taller of the bumbling spies, and Scott Cote is his even dumber sidekick. As the evil baron and baroness, George Dvorsky and Elizabeth Ward Land are silly and sinister at the same time. Oliver Wadsworth may be entirely too sinister for younger children as the hideously creepy Childcatcher, although the happy ending defuses most of the terror.


You don’t have to be a kid to have a truly scrumptious time at Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But feel free to bring a couple of tykes along if you think you’ll feel conspicuous without them.

PLAN YOUR LIFE Through July 5 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 150 mins. $12 to $71. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.


Original Dallas Morning News Post

Theater review: Topol stays in character for Dallas Summer Musicals' 'Fiddler on the Roof'

10:15 AM CDT on Thursday, May 21, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning Newsltaitte@dallasnews.com


Nobody finds it odd when a violinist or pianist is still playing a favorite concerto at the end of a 40-year career. So why be surprised that Topol is still playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof?


The Israeli actor had racked up a number of stage performances even before he made the 1971 movie. Now the total is around 2,500. In what is billed as his final tour, he arrived in Dallas for a one-week run at the Dallas Summer Musicals on Monday.


The performer still has what the role requires. That sonorous bass-baritone peals magnificently through the low notes. The stately, if world-weary, bearing and the soulful countenance, blazing eyes clearly visible in the back rows of the huge theater, give Topol, 73, a patriarchal aura. He could as easily be playing Moses or Rasputin – if it weren’t for all the droll bits of low humor he tosses off so nonchalantly.


It must be said that spontaneity is not a factor here. Every mournful growl at a bit of bad news, every joyful roll of the eyes, appears calculated and polished to the nth degree. Naturalism also goes out the window in favor of this delicately calculated theatrical flair.


Many old-fashioned masters of comic shtick destroy their material by sending it up. Not Topol. No shred of cynicism or self-indulgence gets in the way of Fiddler’s emotional journey. Before empty-nest syndrome had a name, this great musical explored the agonies of letting go – and the star plays them for all they are worth.


The current tour has selling points beyond its leading man. Susan Cella as Golde and Mary Stout as Yente are also masters of the broad comic style. Among the lovely daughters, Jamie Davis’ Hodel stands out for her soaring voice. Steve Gilliam’s storybook set invests the village of Anatevka with a quaint charm.


Best of all, director-choreographer Sammy Dallas Bayes has reproduced Jerome Robbins’ exuberant first-act dances with fiery precision. An important secret of Fiddler’s success is the sheer animal energy that drives these sequences. They keep this tale of loss and aging young and vital.


As young and vital as its septuagenarian star.

Theater review: RENT brings New York polish to Music Hall stage

By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News


12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 6, 2009



A little distance brings things into focus: Rent is incomparably the greatest Broadway musical in, say, the last 30 years, and the farewell tour that the Dallas Summer Musicals brought to Fair Park Music Hall on Tuesday is probably your last chance to see it in pristine shape, as good as when in opened in New York 13 years ago.


The back story, of course, is so sad and perfect it seems made up. The young genius who wrote Rent, Jonathan Larson, died of an aneurysm right before the triumphant first performance. His transposition of the story of La Boheme to downtown Manhattan won every prize going, and this tangled skein of sex and romance (straight, gay and bi) in which half the characters are trying to live with AIDS won a whole new generation of fans to the theater.


From the screeches that greeted the first two actors onstage Tuesday, you’d think all those fans were in attendance to greet the show’s original stars. Anthony Rapp, as detached filmmaker Mark, looks just like he did in 1996; if anything, his timing and diction are sharper and his performance more engaged. Adam Pascal, playing alienated songwriter Roger, looks leaner and meaner, neither inappropriate to the character; his singing voice has taken on a rasping rocker’s edge that works well, too.


Original director Michael Greif has knit the rest of the cast into a tight ensemble. Amazingly, you can hear almost every word in this often intractable space. Former American Idol contestant Lexi Lawson eases her way uncomfortably through Mimi’s precarious dance on the fire escape, but her voice and her onstage presence are both gorgeous. Nicolette Hart makes a hilarious Maureen, and Michael McElroy brings his sonorous voice and vast stage experience to Tom Collins. Unfortunately, Justin Johnston doesn’t have that seraphic aura you ideally want in the role of Angel, but he dies magnificently.


Ultimately, it’s Larson’s tingling melodies and handcrafted lyrics (and his skill at building large forms out of both) that make Rent so special. Its frankness about sex and drugs means it’s not for everyone. Still, if you are curious or perhaps already know the score, but have never seen the show (or have only seen the dispiriting 2005 screen version), you owe yourself a trip to the Music Hall.




PLAN YOUR LIFE Through Sunday at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 165 mins. $15 to $85.


Buy tickets here: http://www.ticketmaster.com/promo/vf0c6y?camefrom=DSM_WEB_RENT_BLOG

Theater review: Stacy Keach is a marvel in 'Frost/Nixon' at the Majestic

11:20 AM CDT on Thursday, April 30, 2009

By Lawson Taitte / The Dallas Morning News


President Richard M. Nixon may never have achieved the rehabilitation in public esteem he so craved in his lifetime. He’s got it now, though, at least as Stacy Keach plays him in Frost/Nixon.


Peter Morgan’s play about the TV interviews Nixon gave to talk-show host David Frost had its origin in that most fecund of London theatrical enterprises, the Donmar Warehouse. The show then traveled to Broadway and went on to become a major film, winning Tony Awards and Oscar nominations both for the vehicle and the star who played the president, Frank Langella.


If there’s any actor on the American stage with more stature, more sheer talent, than Langella, it’s Stacy Keach. He headlines the touring version that the Dallas Summer Musicals brought to the Majestic Theatre on Wednesday.


The marvelous Langella brought depth and tragic dignity to the role of the disgraced President three years after his unparalleled resignation from office. But he also brought a certain smarminess to the role and a whiff of parody in the ways he adapted some of Nixon’s well-known mannerisms and vocal patterns.


Smarmy is not a word you’d ever use to describe Keach’s Nixon. Tortured, self-regarding, yes, perhaps even venal. But this figure projects a fallen grandeur and canny, self-possessed intellect that command respect – and maybe even affection.


The touring version (directed, like the original, by Michael Grandage) does have its own quota of smarminess. Alan Cox’s Frost oozes slime right up to the final moments when he at last gets Nixon to confess wrongdoing on camera (something that never actually happened in real life, by the way). Even that formidable journalist Jim Reston in this young incarnation (as played by Brian Sgambati) is lightweight and petty in comparison with the wounded-bear Keach as Nixon.


It’s too bad that Keach probably won’t be touring his version of King Lear (to be seen in Washington, D.C., this summer) and that he hasn’t been seen more frequently in great plays in New York and around the country. He commands the stage as only a couple of American actors of his generation do. Whatever your politics, don’t miss the chance to see him do his stuff in Frost/Nixon.

Theater Review: 'The Rat Pack – Live at the Sands' is almost as good as being there

12:05 AM CST on Wednesday, March 4, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News ltaitte@dallasnews.comOriginal post


An airline ticket can get you to Las Vegas quite reasonably these days. A time machine that’ll get you there a half-century ago is another matter.

That’s the goal of The Rat Pack – Live at the Sands, the London hit that Dallas Summer Musicals brought to the Majestic Theatre on Tuesday.

You can guess the format from the title: Singers portraying Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. cover the stars’ greatest hits. A 16-piece band (something of a luxury in the theater these days) plays onstage, and three curvaceous backup singers add a considerable amount of what in those days was called sex appeal.

This may sound like a dubious proposition, but people apparently are still eager to hear numbers out of the great American songbook (alongside tunes of lesser pedigree) sung by voices of substance and backed by choirs of actual saxes, trumpets and trombones.

Of the three leading performers, only Stephen Triffitt’s Sinatra provokes the occasional internal double take, providing reassurance that this is only a latter-day impersonator rather than the real thing. At first, he’s almost too successful in duplicating Sinatra’s every rhythmic and phonetic inflection. Eventually, he makes us forget the mechanics and just listen to the music – especially the torch song “Angel Eyes.” He’s also got the physical manner, at once regal and offhand, down pat.

His pretend buddies both boast fine voices, but the illusion is weaker. Davis sometimes trod perilously close to self-parody, which makes things doubly hard for David Hayes. He’s lively and he can hoof it, but he lacks the grit under the original star’s larger-than-life exterior. Mark Adams projects Martin’s macho appeal, and the voice evokes the star without imitating him slavishly. But Adams works too hard at ingratiating himself with the audience, whereas you could always see a dead chill of indifference in Martin’s eyes.

The Rat Pack brims with the buddies’ horseplay (complete with sexist, racist and boozy jokes authentic to the period). What it leaves you with, however, are meditations on Frank Sinatra’s unique career. Not only does Triffitt bring him to life, he sings the questionable later material, especially “My Way,” with genuine feeling that we didn’t always get from the man himself.


Through Sunday at the Majestic Theatre. Runs 140 mins. $12 to $71. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, www.ticketmaster.com.

Performances overcome a lackluster score in 'The Color Purple'

By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News


view this article on the original website


Epic novels often have a rough transition to the stage: Events fly by so fast they feel like a historical pageant rather than a play.


Oprah Winfrey presents The Color Purple, the stage musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, exhibits such symptoms early on. The Dallas Summer Musicals opened the area premiere, its 2008 State Fair show, on Tuesday at Fair Park Music Hall.


The childhoods of the heroine, Celie (Jeannette Bayardelle), and her sister are over after two short choruses of the opening song. Horrors of domestic violence bump rudely against stylized comedy, even in the scenes in which Sofia (Felicia P. Fields) begins to show Celie she doesn’t have to accept the abuse that has been heaped on her all her life.


The show really doesn’t come to life, though, until the notorious Shug Avery (Angela Robinson) returns to town. Shug was the true love of Celie’s cruel husband, Mister (Rufus Bonds Jr.), but convention prevented them from marrying. Mister takes his disappointment out on Celie for years. During one of Shug’s periodic visits home, though, Celie nurses her back to health and the two women develop a sisterly relationship that eventually turns sexual. As this happens over the last half hour of the first act, we finally get characters interacting with one another.


The second acts ratchets things up by finding some creative solutions to the problems of long-range storytelling. To begin with, a dream – or rather a letters – ballet, spectacularly set in Africa, shows Celie what has become of her long lost sister. The successive stages of Celie’s evolution into a free woman each get a neatly turned scene or song, or both.


The score doesn’t have many grab-you tunes, a disappointment given the rich musical styles of the early 20th century, in which the story is set. But the performers are uniformly terrific, dramatically as well as vocally.

The gorgeously designed sets and costumes envelop the actors in swirling color. Donald Byrd, a significant modern dance choreographer, has the entire cast moving and shaking.


Occasionally Ms. Bayardelle’s gestures and expressions seem modeled a little too closely on Whoopi Goldberg’s in Steven Spielberg’s film version of The Color Purple. But Ms. Bayardelle does create a character that evokes sympathy and, eventually admiration.


PLAN YOUR LIFE Through Oct. 19 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 170 mins. $25 to $77. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.


'Jersey Boys' transfixes eyes and ears at Fair Park Music Hall

12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, July 26, 2008

By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News


View this article on their website here


Talk about a buildup: We are two-thirds of the way through the first act of Jersey Boys before the Four Seasons come together for their first big hit. When “Sherry” finally does erupt, it’s as if a skyscraper-sized bottle of champagne exploded.

The 2006 Tony Award winner for best musical opened at the Dallas Summer Musicals on Friday (after a couple of previews). The show doesn’t miss a beat in its transfer from Broadway to the road. You’ve probably never heard the names of any of the performers, but no matter. Jersey Boys doesn’t need stars, it creates them.

Marshall Brickman and Rick Ellice wrote one of the all-time great show librettos in telling the story of four working-class Italian boys who became one of the most successful musical groups ever. Take that example of the long buildup: Hearing the cover songs the boys sang as they established their career gives the tale a context. So do the pop-art and video projections Michael Clark designed for Klara Zieglerova’s ingenious set.

Each of the four group members narrates – and dominates – a quarter of the show. Tommy DeVito (Erik Bates) is the deal maker – and corner cutter, stealing when he needs to and gambling away his earnings during the good times. The baby-faced Bob Gaudio (Andrew Rannells) writes the music and doesn’t really feel part of the neighborhood. In his segment, Mr. Rannells proves that white bread can be charismatic and nearly steals the show.

Nick Massi (Steve Gouveia), the quiet one, gets tired of touring and wants to go back home. Of course, the frontman is Frankie Valli (Joseph Leo Bwarie). Tommy treats him like a lowly kid brother, but Bob knows that that strange, high-flying voice is the one he was destined to write for.

After intermission, we see the group falling apart. The emergence of Frankie’s solo career is the second act’s trajectory – and once again the build to the huge hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is tremendously exciting.

Director Des McAnuff wove all the elements of Jersey Boys into a swirling, precisely choreographed showpiece that keeps on gaining momentum. Entertainment doesn’t get any slicker – or more accomplished.

PLAN YOUR LIFE Through Aug. 16 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 155 mins. $25 to $124. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, www.ticketmaster.com.

'High School Musical' the class favorite at Fair Park Music Hall

7/3/2008 12:00AM CST

The Dallas Morning News

‘High School Musical’ the class favorite at Fair Park Music Hall




View article on their website here


Whatever its artistic merits, Disney’s High School Musical has accomplished something special at the Music Hall at Fair Park: throngs of children and teens lined up, giddy with excitement over live theater. We’re talking jumping up and down with glee.

The kids even got into a “dress for the theater” spirit – cute sundresses with matching tights and color-coordinated sneakers for the girls, nice pants and shirts for the boys. Frankly, I’ve rarely seen adults dressed that well for Dallas theater, or that well-behaved.

HSM takes its spot in the pantheon of musical theater as the place where theater geekdom becomes the epitome of cool. It’s the theatrical version of the fair midway: full of flash and frivolity, color and movement, with all the substance of cotton candy. But honestly, when you’re having that much sheer fun, who needs substance?

For those who’ve been watching only HBO for the last couple of years, HSM (which began as a movie on the Disney Channel) tells the story of “freaky math girl” Gabriella Montez (played by Arielle Jacobs) and “playmaker dude” basketball star Troy Bolton (John Jeffrey Martin). They bond over a summer-break karaoke session and then meet again when Gabriella transfers to Troy’s digs, Albuquerque’s East High School.

Much to the disdain of their respective cliques, Gabriella and Troy both secretly long for stardom of a different sort: the title roles in the winter musical, Juliet and Romeo, a “delicious neofeminist adaptation … with three tap numbers!” as drama teacher Ms. Darbus (a wickedly funny Ellen Harvey) describes it.

Tension, trauma and many musical numbers ensue, and of course everything works out in the end for the big finale of “We’re All in This Together.”

This is a true ensemble show, with no breakout star roles, although Ms. Jacobs and Mr. Martin show warmth, charisma and decent voices as Gabriella and Troy. Heléne Yorke also stands out as the irritating Sharpay, the school’s drama queen – in more ways than one – who has a tinny, screechy voice that perfectly matches the bark of her namesake dog.

This isn’t Les Misérables, or even Grease (which it resembles somewhat). But it’s a genuinely sweet-spirited, infectiously enjoyable reason for the whole family to see theater together – without once making the parents cringe.Plan your life

Through July 13 at Fair Park Music Hall, $18.50 to $78.50. 214-631-2787, http://www.dallassummermusicals.org/.