‘Significant Other’ prompts a significant emotional reaction

As a reviewer, I try to be as dispassionate and analytical as possible in my critique of most works of theater. That’s why, when a particular production speaks to me on a wholly personal, intimate level that might not precisely translate to other audience members, I feel the need to explain why.

Contributed by Kathryn Lane Photography

Jarrott Productions’ newest show, Joshua Harmon’s “Significant Other,” is just such a production. The play is a comedy/drama hybrid that follows the lives of four college friends in their late 20s as they negotiate the slippery terrain between their friendship-focused young adulthood and the more family-focused lifestyle of oncoming middle age. At the center of all this is Jordan Berman, a gay man who watches his three closest friends (all female) couple off while he remains single and increasingly alone with his own neurotic, self-destructive thoughts.

As somebody who only recently negotiated the type of life transition explored by this play, Jordan’s trials and tribulations spoke to me with a great deal of cutting, uncomfortable truth. What’s more, his story reminded me far too much of that of a dear friend of mine whose own journey through those years ended in tragedy.

I was emotionally wrecked by “Significant Other” and had one of those transformative evenings at the theater that cut through to the core of my being. I don’t know, however, whether the experience of most audience members will be the same (though, judging by the other people sobbing after the curtain fell, I was likely not the only one so moved).

In many ways, this production is stronger than the sum of its parts. A sharp, witty script, kinetic direction and design, and several very moving performances combine to make an extremely solid production that — if the source matter speaks to you — has the ability to transcend into a truly personal piece of art.

Much of what creates this transcendent potential is the warm, nuanced, complex performance by Will Douglas as Jordan. Douglas truly captures the feeling of being a lonely, compulsive neurotic whose own miseries are only multiplied by the happiness of those he loves most. He makes Jordan’s anxiety and despair palpable in remarkably subtle ways, particularly when paired with Susan Myburgh as his best friend, Laura. David R. Jarrott’s directorial flourishes wisely focus on transitioning from scene to scene (the text fluidly moves between locations) while showing faith in his actors to carry the momentum within each individual scene through the strength of their performances.

“Significant Other” will be an entertaining, engaging, moving production for most audience members; for some, it will be the kind of wrenchingly emotional experience we crave from the theater. The final image, a spotlight on Douglas’ face as he struggles with a variety of deep, conflicting emotions, somehow landing simultaneously on hope and despair, will haunt me for quite some time to come.

“SIGNIFICANT OTHER”
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 30
Where: Trinity Street Playhouse, 901 Trinity St.
Cost: $23-$30
Information: jarrottproductions.com

Austin playwright examines those left in wake of racial violence

A new Lisa B. Thompson play is an occasion.

Not only is Thompson an associate professor of African and African Diaspora studies at the University of Texas, but she is also one of Austin’s most accomplished playwrights, having crafted a series of works that explore the African-American experience, both historically and today, with depth, nuance, and emotional and intellectual precision.

Contributed by Austin Playhouse

The world premier of Thompson’s latest play, “Monroe,” at Austin Playhouse is no exception to this rule. Set in Monroe, La., in 1946, the play explores the aftermath of a lynching on the young victim’s family and friends. For such a heavy premise, though, “Monroe” is not a play that wallows in pity. Rather, it celebrates the life, love and vivaciousness of the survivors and explores the varied resonances of what it means to either stay or move away in the wake of such a tragedy.

Unfortunately, this production of “Monroe” doesn’t quite fully click. Director Lara Toner Haddock, though very talented, does not seem to be the perfect match for this subject matter. The anger and menace that are embedded within the subtext of the play never quite come forth on the stage, leaving one with a sense of low stakes and low energy when, in fact, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

A shining exception to this is Kriston Woodreaux as Clyde James, who was the first person to find the lynched boy, Jefferson. Woodreaux’ approach to the role is brimming with charm and good humor, while just underneath the surface hides a deeply wounded sense of trauma, confusion and bitterness. His performance most closely gets to the nature of the PTSD that this entire community is experiencing, even though that feeling is missing elsewhere in the production.

It’s important to note that this is the world premiere of “Monroe” and thus just the start of a long journey that is likely to see the play take on many permutations. It is a vital look at an aspect of American history that far too many of us still choose to ignore, and as such this is hopefully only the first of many stagings of a work that has the potential, to quote Thompson’s own program note, to lead us to “speak the unspeakable, listen to history, and imagine a better future.”

“MONROE”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 30
Where: 6001 Airport Blvd.
Cost: $16-$36
Information: austinplayhouse.com

City Theatre brings rock opera ‘The Who’s Tommy’ to life

“The Who’s Tommy” (aside from sounding like it should be an Abbott and Costello routine) has one of the most interesting pedigrees in Broadway musical history. “Tommy” started out as a concept album from the rock band The Who, mostly composed by guitarist Pete Townsend, and was adapted into a film in 1975 before ending up as a stage version in 1992, with a book co-written by Townsend and director Des McAnuff.

Contributed by Aleks Ortynski

Given that “The Who’s Tommy” is a true rock opera — consisting, as it does, of music originally created for one of the world’s greatest rock bands — it is a daunting musical for any theater company to mount, but City Theatre’s new production, playing through Sept. 30, shows that the play can be performed with a minimalist aesthetic.

With few sets, props or flashy lighting techniques, City Theatre’s production emphasizes two aspects of “The Who’s Tommy” equally — the music (provided by an enthusiastic, on-stage five-piece band led by musical director Tyler Groft) and the performances. Though the relatively small size of City Theatre’s stage often makes for a crowded scene in a show with 15 cast members, director Jeff Hinkle excels when it comes to creating clear, dialogue-free tableaux during musical interludes that push the story along.

That story itself is a bit uneven. It follows Tommy Walker, a boy who is struck deaf and blind after witnessing a childhood tragedy but who nevertheless becomes a marvel at playing pinball. Much of it, though, feels like padding, added on to turn a one-act concept album into a two-act musical. The music, however, serves as a driving engine that helps keep the pace up even as the script tends to wander.

Contributed by Aleks Ortynski

Though “The Who’s Tommy” is a truly ensemble piece, a few numbers stick out, including the exuberance of Jacob Bernelle, as the adult Tommy, singing “Sensation”; Hilary Werthmann’s throatily seductive turn as the Acid Queen; and Chris Cannata’s irredeemably evil and creepy turn as Tommy’s pedophilic Uncle Ernie singing “Fiddle About.” The show’s multiple featured dancers also excel at Rose Mitchell’s muscular choreography, a particularly challenging feat in such a contained space.

Although it is far from classic fare, “The Who’s Tommy” is a rollicking stage production filled with exuberant performances, a dynamic sound and some standout moments that are solidly entertaining.

“THE WHO’S TOMMY”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 30
Where: 3823 Airport Blvd.
Cost: $20-$45
Information: citytheatreaustin.org

Austin plans jubilee weekend for playwright Terrence McNally.

Terrence McNally, who grew up in Corpus Christi, ranks among the top two or three playwrights from Texas. In Austin, the Ransom Center at the University of Texas holds his papers, while Zach Theatre has become something of the official home for performances of his plays and musicals.

Distinguished playwright Terrence McNally. Contributed by Michael Nagle.

The two groups have teamed up to salute McNally on his 80th birthday with a weekend of activities.

Nov. 10: Theater backers and producers Carolyn and Marc Seriff give a special dinner for the playwright at their home.

Nov. 11: The Texas Union Theater will screen “Every Act of Life,” a documentary about McNally’s life. Zach artistic director Dave Steakley will interview the playwright from the stage afterwards. A reception will follow at the Ransom Center.

RELATED: ‘Ragtime’ is an American classic.

Nov. 12: Zach will present a birthday gala performance that will include actors Richard Thomas, F. Murray Abraham and John Glover. They will highlight the McNally’s career which includes Tony Award wins for “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “Master Class,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Ragtime.”

To RSVP and purchase tickets, visit www.zachtheatre.org/mcnally

Bloomberg Philanthropies rewards 26 Austin cultural groups with grants

[cmg_anvato video=3925636 autoplay=”true”]

Bloomberg Philanthropies has named 26 Austin cultural groups that will receive significant grants as well as management training as part of a $43 million second-wave campaign to strengthen small-to-medium-sized American arts nonprofits.

The charitable foundation — established by businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — chose the groups by invitation only in selective cities.

“It was a complete shock,” said Ron Berry, artistic director of Austin recipient Fusebox Festival. “I was in the office reading an article about how Bloomberg was expanding into our region and remarked to the team about how exciting that was, and then we got an email from them about five minutes later.”

Sylvia Orozco, executive director of the Mexic-Arte Museum, is as thrilled with the grant now as she was with her group’s first in 1984. Daulton Venglar/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“The arts inspire people, provide jobs and strengthen communities,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “This program is aimed at helping some of the country’s most exciting cultural organizations reach new audiences and expand their impact.”

In May, Austin was named alongside Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. to receive a second round of Bloomsberg grants valued at $43 million. Rare for this type of giving, the money is intended to cover operational expenses rather than specific programs.

RELATED: We salute $43 million in Bloomberg arts gifts.

“We wanted to reach cities that we thought had a really strong mix in the way they were serving up arts and culture,” Kate Levin, who oversees arts programs for Bloomberg, told the New York Times in May.

Previously, the program had given $65 million to smaller groups in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In response to the news, Austin arts leaders talked about immediate needs, such as rent or replacement facilities and equipment, but also longer term strategies like marketing and development.

Pianist Michelle Schumann said: ‘The grant comes with a wealth of consulting services and access to experts in the fields of marketing and development.’ Contributed

“Because our building has been sold, we must move in two years,” said Chris Cowden, longtime leader of Women & Their Work Gallery.”We have decided that, to avoid ever higher rents and the instability that brings, we must buy a building. Since the Bloomberg grant is earmarked for operating expenses, money that we would normally have to use for rent and salaries can now be set aside in a fund that will be used to buy that building.”

Finding new audiences is a high priority for long-established groups that have not reached their potential in the community.

“We are investing most of the funds into marketing because that is what we believe will make the strongest impact,” said Ann Ciccolella, artistic director of Austin Shakespeare. “I am personally thrilled! It’s taken a long time to get to a $500,000 budget and now it’s time for growth. With so many arts groups in the city learning new tactics together, I am hoping for powerful results.”

For some groups, the grant money takes a back seat to training. Bloomberg’s arts innovation and management program was devised by DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland.

“The grant comes with a wealth of consulting services and access to experts in the fields of marketing and development,” said Michelle Schumann, artistic director of the Austin Chamber Music Center. “I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to ‘up our game.’”

The Bloomberg group instructs recipients to keep mum about the gift amounts, but an informal poll suggests that the grants equal 10 percent of their existing operating budgets.

“I am pumped,” said Jenny Larson, one of Salvage Vanguard Theater‘s artistic directors. “This funding could not have come at a better time for us. Being in a place of transition with the venue and staff has made us feel off balance. This support gives me hope and confidence that over the next two years we can create a solid foundation for SVT to continue to grow from.”

What do local arts leaders want to do with the windfall?

“Everything!” said  Lara Toner Haddock, artistic director of Austin Playhouse. “Seriously there’s always a huge wish list of what we could do with extra funds. An unrestricted grant is so welcome.”

“I am as thrilled and excited as I remember being when we received our first grant ever in 1984,” said Sylvia Orozco, head of the Mexic-Arte Museum. “I am glowing! When you are young and daring, you believe you can do anything and accomplish everything you dream of. That’s how I felt then and that is how I again feel now.”

26 Austin cultural groups will receive Bloomberg Philanthropies grants

Allison Orr Dance (Forklift Danceworks)

Anthropos Arts

Austin Chamber Music Center

Austin Classical Guitar Society

Austin Creative Alliance

Austin Film Festival

Austin Film Society

Austin Music Foundation

Austin Opera

Austin Playhouse

Austin Shakespeare

Big Medium

Center For Women & Their Work

Chorus Austin

Conspirare

Creative Action

Esquina Tango Cultural Society

Fusebox Festival

Mexic-Arte Museum

Penfold Theatre Company

Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance

Roy Lozano Ballet Folklorico De Texas

Rude Mechs

Salvage Vanguard Theater

Telling Project

Vortex Repertory Company

UPDATE:  Lara Toner Haddock’s name was missing from this story in an earlier post.

‘The Goat’ makes audiences take hard look at what we consider taboo

In ancient Greece, theater was more than just a classy evening out. For audience members, theater was a ritual, bordering on religious, experience. Greek tragedy, then, was a performance type meant to bring viewers to the extreme edges of human experience, where they could see an assortment of horrors, feel their impact, and walk away with a sense of catharsis without having to undergo those extremes themselves.

Rebecca Robinson and Robert Pierson in “The Goat.” Contributed by Alan Trammell

 

Edward Albee’s “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” is a play deliberately cast in the mold of Greek tragedy. Its high-status protagonist, Martin, is a world-famous architect brought low by both his own flaws and the hypocrisies of the society around him, and the normal, subdued tones of the opening slowly descend into a frenzied nightmarescape by the play’s end. What’s more, “The Goat” is a provocative theatrical hand grenade thrown by one of America’s fiercest playwrights, who deliberately asks his liberal audience to reconsider their own notions of what they consider taboo and why.

Capital T Theatre’s outstanding new production, playing through Sept. 15 at Hyde Park Theatre, taps into the depth, terror and ultimate humanity that are at the heart of Albee’s text. Over the course of three harrowing scenes, we see Martin and his family (his wife Stevie and son Billy) descend into a hell of Martin’s making, a plunge mirrored pitch-perfectly by the subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes in Patrick Anthony’s lighting, Cheryl Painter’s costumes and director Mark Pickell’s own fastidiously naturalistic set.

As the play opens, the full range of Robert Pierson’s portrayal of Martin isn’t quite evident. He is distracted, forgetful and tonally subdued, all of which is due, we learn through a confession to his best friend Ross (played with boyish jocularity by Tim Blackwood) that he is having an affair. That infidelity, we learn, is not with another woman, but rather with a goat named Sylvia.

Albee treats what may at first glance seem to be comedic or surrealist with deadly seriousness, as we see Stevie and Billy’s reactions to Martin’s revelation. From there, Pierson’s performance opens up, as Martin refuses to see anything wrong with what he has done, as his affair with Sylvia has given him happiness he has rarely known. Underneath this hapless obliviousness, though, is the dark edge to Martin’s character, which Pierson slowly brings out, as a man who seeks the ultimate sympathy and understanding from his family has absolutely no sympathy for Stevie or Billy’s feelings or concerns.

Rebecca Robinson, as Stevie, is given an equally demanding role by the text, forced to exist on the precipice of rage and hysteria, a frenetic tone that she maintains with daunting forcefulness. Her rage provides one of the play’s fearful driving engines, as does Billy’s simmering, hormonal, teenage sexuality that threatens to burst other societal taboos.

“The Goat” is the kind of play that engenders both deep emotion — from unease to disgust to, yes, even sympathy — and deep conversation about the nature of what we, as a society, are willing and unwilling to accept. By the end of Capital T’s marvelous production, Martin’s admission feels among the least disturbing secrets we have learned, and yet each further revelation engages us intellectually even as it reaches to the core of our deeply embedded social assumptions.

Though its dark, frank material may not be for everybody, “The Goat” is a must-see for those looking for a moving, moody, meditative family tragedy of Greek proportions that may forever change the way we view our world and ourselves.

‘THE GOAT’
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through Sept. 15
Where: Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd St.
Cost: $20-$30
Information: capitalt.org

TexArts tries to take some of the nastiness out of ‘Trailer Park Musical’

When it premiered off-Broadway in 2005, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” was intended as a lighthearted piece of intentionally offensive satire in the vein of “South Park” or “Family Guy.” In our current era, though, with soul-searching about the fate of poor, white America in books like “Hillbilly Elegy” and shows like “Roseanne,” it’s difficult to not see the extremely problematic side of this text.

Contributed by TexArts

TexArts’ new production of the play is a high-spirited, rollicking rendition that attempts to overcome those textual failings by focusing on the female empowerment aspects of the plot. But it is still somewhat mired in a troubling caricature of a subset of Americans brimming with deep resentment and simmering class and racial tensions.

All of this, of course, is a very rarified way to talk about a goofy show that features an up-tempo song called “Road Kill,” but the structure of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” — with a book by Betsy Kelso and music and lyrics by David Nehls — does trade in some very classical allusions. As much as it is a satire of trailer park life, it also has fun with the structure of Greek comedy, featuring a singing chorus of three female “Fates” and a plot with some passing similarities to that of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

In their portrayal of these three narrators, Boni Hester as Betty, Cara Statham Serber as Lin and Alyssa Malgeri as Pickles are all manic wit, assaying a variety of personalities and emphasizing the numerous ways in which clever, driven women are able to get one over on dull-witted men. The plot, on the other hand, revolves around the lives of four characters — hapless toll collector Norbert (Jarret Mallon), his agoraphobic wife Jeannie (Julie Foster), his “stripper-on-the-run” mistress Pippi (Emily Villarreal), and Pippi’s violent ex-boyfriend Duke (Zach Thompson).

Mallon, Foster and Villarreal wring some real pathos out of the story, with sympathetic, nuanced performances that often give more respect to the characters than does the text. Thompson, meanwhile, provides the most over-the-top performance, and gets some of the biggest laughs; this is aided in no small part by the fact that the jokes at Duke’s expense constitute some of the few times that the text is “punching up,” at an abuser, rather than punching down at the poverty-stricken.

Director Sarah Gay does her utmost to downplay the more offensive “white trash” elements of the show; her vision of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is clearly one that focuses on the ways in which women overcome hardship (often caused by men) in order to, as one lyric goes, “like a nail, press on.” And though this is, indeed, the laudable side of the text, there is still an inherent elitist nastiness to much of the humor that is impossible to overlook.

It is unlikely that “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” has mean-spirited intentions, either when it was written or in TexArts’ newest incarnation of the play. However, the text fundamentally lacks a necessary layer of irony that would make its humor productive, rather than at the expense of an entire class and community. Though TexArts’ production adds in a great deal of sympathetic nuance, in the end that complexity is frequently overwhelmed by the simplistic, mocking nature of so much of the musical.

“The Great American Trailer Park Musical”
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, with 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 performance, through Sept. 1
Where: TexArts, 2300 Lohman’s Spur
Cost: 43-$60
Information: tex-arts.org

Play about professor with cancer is a moving look at death and how we live

The 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Wit” was the first and only play written by Margaret Edson, who has otherwise spent her career working as an elementary school teacher. That educational drive shines through in “Wit”, a moving meditation on death, and is a driving force behind the Austin Scottish Rite Theater’s new production of the drama, playing through Aug. 25 and co-produced by the Final Acts Project.

“Wit” at Scottish Rite Theater. Contributed

The play follows the final months of English professor Vivian Bearing as she undergoes treatment for ovarian cancer, in particular focusing on her relationship with Jason, a young doctor (and former student) obsessed with research rather than treatment; and Susie, a caring nurse who provides the only warmth in Vivian’s life. It’s no spoiler to mention that Vivian dies at the end; she says as much in her opening monologue, a direct address to the audience that forms the narrative spine of the play, weaving together her memories and fantasies with her real-life experiences in the hospital.

Director Susan Gayle Todd’s vision of “Wit” heavily implies that we are immersed within Vivian’s mind in her final moments, and that what we are seeing is her attempt to turn the physical, bodily experience of her death into one last lecture, akin to her career-defining exegeses of the metaphysical poems of John Donne. Todd and her design team (including lighting designer Deanna Belardinelli, costume designer Desiree Humphries, sound designer Chris Humphrey and scenic designers Leilah Stewart and Vicki Yoder) take advantage of the fact that the Scottish Rite Theater highly resembles a high school auditorium and create a fever dream-like melding of an academic setting and busy hospital.

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The result is an off-putting yet immersive experience that re-creates Vivian’s conflict between giving up control of her own body and her obsession with being a respected academic and commanding teacher. Kristin Fern Johnson’s masterful performance perfectly rides the line between strength and despair, switching on a dime from a version of Vivian suffering in her hospital bed, begging for comfort, and an inner lecturer who wants to commandeer her final performances and refuses to stoop to maudlin sentimentality or needless humor.

This conflict is underscored by the study in contrasts provided by Delanté Keys’ Jason and Megan Ortiz’s Susie. While Keys matches Johnson’s poetic, philosophical musings in his awe over the majesty of cancer, Ortiz connects with her baser, more human moments, providing the caring succor that Vivian refuses to even acknowledge that she needs. Both relationships are developed in part thanks to an almost invisible added scene partner, the live music composed and performed by Darrel Mayers that provides a backing of emotional depth and resonance to a text that frequently elides such cathartic closure.

“Wit” is a complex text, addressing themes about control, academia, palliative care and the ways in which doctors sometimes treat patients with no more care than a professor taking apart the grammar of a poem. Austin Scottish Rite Theater faithfully captures all the nuance and intricacy of the play in a production that is, itself, full of a mixture of both heady intellectual wit and, in the end, simple human kindness.

‘WIT’
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through Aug. 25
Where: 207 W. 18th St.
Cost: $15-$25
Information: brownpapertickets.com/event/3520845

‘There and Back’ looks at history of immigration through one woman’s life

Any narrative of the history of U.S. immigration that culminates in 2018 seemingly must, by necessity, end in heartbreak and tragedy.

The world premiere of Austinite Raul Garza’s new play “There and Back” at Ground Floor Theatre, though, paints an intimate portrait of the issue that chooses a different sort of conclusion.

 

Ground Floor Theatre is staging the premiere of Austin playwright Raul Garza’s new work, “There and Back.” Contributed by Kenneth Gall

“There and Back,” playing through Aug. 25, tells the story of Gloria, a Mexican woman who immigrated to an American work camp in the 1960s as a part of the Bracero Program in order to join her husband, Victor. It follows Gloria’s life over a broad swath of time, focusing on the ’60s, ’80s and today, thanks to some magical time-hopping courtesy of Gloria’s guardian angel, of sorts, the Virgen de Guadalupe.

Along the way, Garza provides a brief account of the history of immigration to the United States in the latter half of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st. Much of that history is one of betrayal and dashed hopes, spurred on by false promises offered from politicians on the left as well as the right (with particular emphasis placed on the policies of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and, of course, Donald Trump).

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Garza resists the urge to idealize Gloria and her family, though, and indeed is frequently as critical of issues involving the immigrant community — gender relations, intergenerational political clashes, labor relations, etc. — as he is of U.S. policy. What results is a very human narrative about one woman’s struggle to live a simple life of human dignity in a country that continually tries to rob her of it.

Gloria, as portrayed with sympathetic depth and nuance by Karina Dominguez, is a pillar of quiet yet intense strength. In her relationship with the Virgen (played with divine wit and self-awareness by Giselle Marie Muñoz) we see a journey of self-empowerment that evades and counters much of the hopelessness, hateful rhetoric and violence of our contemporary moment. Though the half-imaginary relationship between the two women serves as the heart of the play, much of the historical breadth of the narrative comes from Mical Trejo’s assaying of three unique generations of Gloria’s family, showcasing the generational nature of the immigrant experience.

Director Patti Neff-Tiven’s production of Garza’s text is elegantly simple, relying largely on the counterplay of a generally realistic set from Ia Ensterä against evocative lighting and sound design from Natalie George and Lowell Bartholomee, respectively, that bring forth the more magical moments.

“There and Back” is not flashy, but in its straightforward earnestness it tells a powerfully important story that more than makes up for a somewhat slow start and ambiguous ending. Garza is a vital voice for our contemporary moment, and his new play is a necessary, humanist contribution to one of the most important conversations of our time.

“THERE AND BACK”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 25
Where: 979 Springdale Road
Cost: $5-$45
Information: groundfloortheatre.org

Gov. Ann Richards hit returns to Zach Theatre

Zach Theatre has added Holland Taylor‘s “Ann,” a hit Broadway treatment of late Gov. Ann Richards, to its already announced 2018-2019 season.

Apparently, however, without Taylor in the title role. Casting to be announced later.

Holland Taylor played Gov. Ann Richards in “Ann” at Zach Theatre in 2016.

Taylor made a big splash at Zach in 2016 after researching the biographical play here, then testing an earlier, longer version of “Ann” at the Paramount Theatre prior to its regional and Broadway runs. While in town, she seemed to meet everyone, everywhere. Taylor could have run for local office. And won!

It will be directed by Benjamin Endsley Klein, director of the Broadway version “Ann,” and associate director of “Carousel” on the Great White Way.

RELATED: Holland Taylor brings back spirit of Ann Richards.

The play nudges forward by a few months “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” from the late summer slot to the winter centerpiece. It will play Jan. 23-March 3, 2019 at the Topfer. Kevin Cahoon, who played Hedwig in the 1998 version, will direct.

“Hedwig,” of course played Zach after its off-Broadway premiere and before its run on Broadway, here starring future marquee actor Andrew Rannells, now back on the Strand in the revival of “The Boys in the Band,” as well as Cahoon.

“Ann” then plays July 31-Sept. 8, 2019, also at the Topfer. For more information, call 512-476-0541 x1 or go to zachtheatre.org.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post mixed up the directors of the two shows.