Five theatre companies to check out in DFW

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Besides the large theatre companies of the Dallas Theatre Center and the Winspear Opera House, the Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to numerous smaller theatre companies that produce rich, diverse seasons.

These theatres may be slightly off the beaten path, but they are staples in the artistic community of DFW.

Be on the lookout for their performances: many of them offer student discounts and produce contemporary works, including world premieres.

  1. Undermain Theatre, Deep Ellum

Katherine Owens founded Undermain in 1984 and still serves as artistic director.

“[Our mission is to] inspire, educate and challenge audiences and artists through its production of innovative theatre with particular interest in poetic and language driven work,” the website says.

Undermain receives its name from its unique location: the theatre itself is underground, beneath Main Street in Deep Ellum.

This fall from Sept. 14-Oct. 8, see the regional premiere of “so go the ghosts of méxico” by Matthew Paul Olmos, the first of a three-play cycle on the U.S.-Mexico drug wars.

Later this fall, see Anne Washburn’s wry look at a tech rehearsal in “10 out of 12” Nov. 9-Dec. 3.

  1. Theatre Three, Uptown

Founded in 1961, Theatre Three originally operated out of the Sheraton Dallas.

The company quickly outgrew the space and after a few years at a space in Deep Ellum, they eventually purchased and heavily renovated a building in uptown Dallas.

“[Our mission is to] produce a wide variety of literature so that our understanding of the human condition is expanded,” their website says.

Instead of a traditional proscenium stage, Theatre Three’s stage is in-the-round, yielding an unusual theatrical experience.

This fall catch Matt Sklar, Tim Herlihy and Chad Beguelin’s hilarious musical “The Wedding Singer,” based on the 1998 film of the same name, from Sept. 22-Oct. 16, as well as the world premiere of Bruce R. Coleman’s new play “Day Light” from Nov. 17-Dec. 11.

  1. Lyric Stage, Irving

Founded by Stephen Jones, Lyric Stage in Irving has developed a reputation for producing incredible musicals.

New life is breathed into classic Broadway shows in revivals that prominently feature a “full” orchestra, a rare sight these days even on Broadway.

UD’s own Stefan Novinski recently directed a dazzling production of “The Golden Apple” to great acclaim.

This fall, don’t miss the production of Lerner & Loewe’s classic musical adaptation of the King Arthur legend “Camelot,” running Sept. 9-18.

  1. Water Tower Theatre, Addison

Founded in 1996, Water Tower Theatre is in its 20th year of providing quality theatre to the Dallas community.

Striving to reach people through the unique magic of live theatre, Water Tower is dedicated to offering diverse seasons including classic plays and musicals and often featuring new contemporary work by up-and-coming artists.

Water Tower has produced five world premieres and over a dozen regional premieres.

This fall, you can catch the regional premiere of “Ring of Fire: the Music of Johnny Cash.” Created by Richard Maltby Jr. and William Meade, “Ring of Fire” utilizes Cash’s iconic songbook to explore love, faith, success and struggle. It runs Oct. 7-30.

  1. Casa Mañana, Fort Worth

A visit to this historic theater is well worth the trek to Ft. Worth. In 1936, Dallas was selected as the site of the Texas Centennial.

Meanwhile, Amon G. Carter, creator of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, planned a celebration in Ft. Worth.

He hired Broadway producer Billy Rose to produce a “Show of Shows” which was so successful, it was intended to return every summer for the next four years.

Rising costs and the threat of World War II, however, eventually shut down the theatre.

In 1958, the City of Ft. Worth created a non-profit corporation to build and operate a new theatre.

Since then, Casa Mañana has produced rich, diverse and entertaining seasons for the DFW community.

From Sept. 10-18, you can see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Then, from Nov. 5-13, don’t miss “Million Dollar Quartet,” the jukebox musical by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, which dramatizes the famed recording session of Dec. 4 1956 that brought together musical giants Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash in Memphis.

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