Jayden Russell, left, and Bryson Petersen in Theatre Arlington’s ‘Avenue Q.’ (Photos by Taylor Staniforth, courtesy of TA)

Stage Notes is a weekly aggregate post about theater, classical music and stage news, events, reviews and other pertinent information.

Opening this week:

AirOtic Soirée: A Circus-Style Burlesque Show, today-Oct. 28 at Viva’s Lounge.

Stage West: Grand Horizons, today-Oct. 1, pictured.

Stringz Attached: An Evening with Omar Dillard, 8 p.m. Friday at the Wyly.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra: Amadeus Live in Concert, Friday-Sunday.

Fort Worth Symphony Pops: Hotel California: A Salute to the Eagles, Friday-Sunday at Bass Hall.

Hip Pocket Theatre: Testing Ground 3+3, Friday-Sunday

Art Centre Theatre: Medea, Friday-Sept. 10.

Richardson Centre Theatre: Misery, Friday-Sept. 17.

The Classics Theatre Project: The Seagull, Friday-Sept. 24 at the Stone Cottage.

Artisan Center Theatre: Some Enchanted Evening, Friday-Sept. 30.

Artisan Center Theatre: Oliver!, Friday-Oct. 7.

Sammons Jazz: Sam Walker and Carlos Averhoff Jr. with Together Afro-Cuban Sextet, Wednesday at Sammons Center.

Onstage now:

Lakeside Community Theatre: Spring Awakening, through Saturday.

MainStage 222: Tigers Be Still, through Saturday, pictured.

Allen Contemporary Theatre: {proof}, through Sunday.

The Core Theatre: Last of the Boys, through Sunday.

Theatre Arlington: Avenue Q, through Sept. 10.

Circle Theatre: The Other Josh Cohen, through Sept. 15.

Upright Theatre: The Importance of Being Earnest, through Sept. 17.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre: Death the Musical III: Escape Room, through Sept. 23

Theatre Wesleyan to present Playmarket program of original works

TW will present four orginal shows in its long-running play program. Playmarket: Premiere Productions of Original Plays will be held at the Thad Smotherman Theatre at the Fort Worth university. Four original works by TWU theater department graduates are presented in a single night. Playmarket will run for one weekend only from Sept. 28-Oct. 1. The show is produced by Department Chair Joe Allen Brown.

This year’s prodcutions are:

The Death of Seneca by Jonathan Burt ’23. This fact-inspired historical farce revolves around the dilemma of ancient Roman philosopher and playwright Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger (Henry Bates) when the Emperor Nero (Jaalen Williams) orders him to commit “a noble death to glorify Rome.” 

Dime Store Dinos by Parker County Theatre Company executive producer Lori Coughlin ’21. After being lost in the parking lot of a Mott’s Five and Dime, five small plastic dinosaurs prove they have what it takes to overcome adversity and find a way home. 

The Ramifications of a Changed Man by Alexandra Flurry-Powell ’19. Set in the early 1800s, Braun (Chase Di Iulio) travels by horse-drawn carriage on his trading route. On his lonely path through the vast and desolate expanse of New Mexico desert, he happens upon a woman, Christina (Peri Zachmeyer), who is barefoot, delirious, and very alone. After convincing her to share his rations, he listens to her frightening story of rejection. After traumatic life-or-death conversations arise, Braun decides to shed his darkest and saddest secrets for the emptiness of the landscape to hear. Will Christina find the courage to listen?

Somewhere Between Floors by Lily Seavey ’23. What happens when two former fiancés (Nicole Davis and Nicholas Keel) find themselves stuck together in a broken elevator that might fall at any moment? After attempting to ignore each other they eventually begin to throw verbal jabs and rehash their life together. This ten-minute play takes us through their 9-year relationship, including the night that led to their breakup. 

Click here for more information, tickets and times.

REVIEW: Get on down to Avenue Q at Theatre Arlington fast

Theatre Arlington’s production of Avenue Q was a huge success, selling out its Friday night show and drawing a large crowd for its Sunday matinee. The show, which featured bawdy humor, snappy showtunes, and a cast of puppets and humans, was both clever and endearing, with a naughty edge.

This ain’t no Sesame Street. It’s perhaps a different neighborhood with less bright colors and raunchy puppet sex. The mix of actors and puppets grounded the story of Princeton (Bryson Petersen) who has moved to New York City with no job, little money and big dreams who moves into a run-down building managed by Gary Coleman (Jayden Russell). Yes, THAT Gary Coleman. 

The cast’s talent in each of their fully-realized characters was mind-blowing. Brandom Wilhelm delighted as the bad comedian with a heart Brian while Lindsay Longacre turned up the volume as his strong-headed wife Christmas Eve.

Jessica Humphrey’s Katie Monster was fervent as the young teacher looking for a boyfriend who has big dreams of her own and Humphrey’s voice was a showstopper. Playing the sexy Lacy, Brandy Raper continued to prove she knows how to mix camp, sensuality and humor into an effective cocktail. The love triangle they have with Princeton was hilarious melodrama.

As the not-gay odd couple, Hayden Lopez’s Nicky was spot-on as the oblivious bro to balance Darin Martin’s uptight and very closeted Rod who has a penchant for musicals. 

Russell had the wherewithal to make Gary Coleman their own rather than any kind of direct impression, but they definitely served some different strokes. Russell’s made the absolute most of their performance and delivered a strong physically comedic performance as well as some big time belting on their showtunes.

Bryan Steveson directed the show with marvelous flair. The cast was delivering side-splitting dialogue or songs but still gave room to breathe. Rife with expletives and sex, the puppets lessened that danger which made it palatable for all audiences (just not kids). Even the grumpy patron with loud sighs next to me eventually embraced the show’s ribald nature. 

The creative team was on full display as well through Stevenson’s set, Kyle Harris’ magical lighting and Ryan Simon’s sound. They created the Avenue Q world that was clever as well as engrossing. 

Music director Mark Mullino’s band offstage was delightful, capturing that wondrous aura of a children’s show with enough dramatic elements to keep the musical interesting. 

Avenue Q was clearly about the laughs first and foremost, and then you think later  about being a little bit racist or obsessed with porn on the internet. Hey, no judgment — which is where Avenue Q as a story, by Jeff Whitty with music and lyrics by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, succeeded. These notions that people consider icks just remind us we’re human and it took puppets to tell us that. 

The show’s edgy humor may be sensitive to some so just go in knowing that and then let go for Theatre Arlington’s latest joyride. 

Avenue Q runs through Sept. 10.

–Rich Lopez