December 22nd, 2011
Just Up, Just Out & Just Missed (Theatre)
It’s the holiday season which means you probably have a little more time on your hands than you’re used to. At the very least, you need to be planning for the days when the family finally leaves town and you can do what you want when you want. How about a theatre production? Deserves to be on the calendar, right?
Just Up: A Few Shows You Won’t Want to Miss
TheatreLaB – Confessions of a Mormon Boy
TheatreLaB – 1706 Alamo Street Houston, TX 77007
For those of us wishing we’d splurged on plane tickets up to New York to see The Book of Mormon in its pre-Tony days, before tickets starting going for the scalp bargain of $200 a pop, TheatreLaB offers a consolation gift. Confessions of a Mormon Boy is the true story of a one actor’s transformation from the perfect Joseph Smith Disciple in Utah, into a high-price call boy in the Big Apple. Promising the solid scripting and acting that TheatreLaB is known and loved for, this show looks poised to be the dark horse of the new year.
Dominic Walsh Dance Theater – Showcase
This showcase will include works choreographed by Dominic Walsh (or course), as well as Jiří Kylián, one of the most renowned fusion choreographers in the world. Showcases require little or no attention to long-term plotting and allow the audience to experience snippets of what a company or choreographer has in store. Given that this particular showcase will be presented by one of the most progressive dance companies in town, expect snippets of brilliance, and an excess of beauty at every turn.
Main Street Theatre – The Coast of Utopia, Part I: Voyage
Main Street Theatre, Chelsea Market – 4617 Montrose Boulevard Houston, TX 77006
January 12-29, 2012: Thursdays @ 7:30pm, Fridays & Saturdays @ 8:00pm, Sundays @ 3:00pm
This play is epic. Literally. It’s a three-parter, which spans the years of 1833 to 1866, revolving around the life of several intellectuals in Russia. It’s rare to see a multi-part play presented stateside and the ballsy move by the artistic staff at Main Street to produce a show that requires a long term commitment from its audience is reason enough to see it. Part one “creates a Chekhovian portrait of life on a Russian estate as he introduces the Bakunin family: Michael, his four sisters, his parents, their social circle, and his growing intellectual circle.” Don’t plan on skipping Part One and picking up later. This ain’t a Fox sitcom.
Just Out: Shows We Saw
Alley Theatre: Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris
We warned you about this production months ago. We cautioned that attending could very well result in spasms of laughter so wild that your dignity could suffer severe and irreversible wounds. Unfortunately, I failed to remember my own words of wisdom until my sixth or seventh snort-laugh of the evening while watching this play, when my companion leaned over and asked, “are you snorting?” Yes, I guess I was. This one man show was brilliantly and sleekly portrayed with Todd Waite reprising his role as Crumpet the Elf for the fourth year. The audience follows Crumpet through his journeys and misadventures as an Elf in the Macy’s Santaland display, being guided with only the merest of costume and set enhancements. Todd Waite’s performance allows the audience to ignore the minimalism of the production so out of character with Alley shows, and focus instead on the genuine hilarity of writer David Sedaris’ script. While some of the jokes may come across as a bit punchy or dated, most have been caressed into modern relevance by the fine work of Waite and his director, David Cromer.
Theatre Under the Stars: White Christmas
We’ve all seen the movie (hopefully). Well, Paul saw the TUTS version and came back with holiday nostalgia coursing through veins:
“The tweaks made here and there to make White Christmas better on stage don’t turn the production into a completely new experience over the movie. They are little surprises, Easter eggs for the audience who think they know exactly what will happen next and make for a refreshing venture.” – Paul’s Review
Cirque De Soleil: Dralion
I should just hand in my actors equity card now. I actually sat through a Cirque De Soleil production. There’s a general attitude pervasive in the theatre world that big Vegas style productions are somehow unworthy wastes of time. I openly admit that I was (or possibly still am) a subscriber to this theory. I went to Dralion with the attitude of “Hey, free ticket. Why not?” While I can’t rave about the overall effect of the show as much as some folks do, I can admit to being genuinely impressed by the stunning costumes and sets. I see the merit now, I truly do. But while there’s no arguing with the lush styling of Cirque De Soleil, I still couldn’t help but sense a lack of substance. While the performers are admittedly amazing, I have to be honest and proclaim the overall effect to be one based more in shock value than in true entertainment. No offense to all you Cirque-heads out there, but this brand of sensory overload simply isn’t for me. So the next time the circus rolls through town, I think I’ll be passing my ticket on to someone who can truly appreciate it.
Just Missed: Did We Mention…?
FrenetiCore – Tenderina
I blew it. This may have been my one chance to drag the husband to the theatre without worrying about his willingness to actually go. A play…about a ballerina…turned stripper. That’s just brilliant. FrenetiCore, in all of its oddly beautiful wisdom offered up the perfect compromise to every artistically mis-matched couple and I managed to miss it. While the reviews around town were mixed, I can’t help but wish I’d been there to see all the nudie brilliance for myself.
Catastrophic Theatre – Anna Bella Eema
This show went on my calendar immediately after reading the little press blurb: “Anna Bella Eema is the story of a mother, her girl and her girl’s girl: a twin she crafted from the mud outside their trailer park home.” How freaky-weird-right-up-my-alley could it get? But alas, the Thanksgiving through Christmas madness managed to clog my schedule and derail my ambition to satisfy this particular artistic craving. Did anyone out there manage to catch it? Let me live vicariously through your opinions…