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Dog Act In the regional premiere of Dog Act, by Liz Duffy Adams, a postapocalyptic world holds a tiny traveling group of vaudevillians. Tamara Siler as Rozetta Stone manages a relic of a cart that is her performance stage, assisted by Philip Hays as Dog, who volunteered for that status. They are joined by two other actors: Celeste Roberts as Vera Similitude and Beth Lazarou as Jo-Jo the Bald-Faced Liar; these seem to have a relationship, though what it is we never learn. David Wald plays Coke and Ross Bautsch plays Bud — these are Scavengers, and they quarrel all the time. The actors are excellent, but the tone of the play is elusive. The Scavengers drop the F-bomb close to every other word, and speak a Shakespearean vernacular with a Cockney accent. Rozetta Stone speaks Ebonics with Dog and the others, but speaks differently when orating onstage. Vera has a British accent, Jo-Jo mostly just looks angry and Dog doesn't speak much. The central parallel is to Peter Quince's acting troupe in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, so the amateurish look of the troupe is explained, as is the winking at the audience. Playwright Adams has created a pastiche of events — a lot does happen in Act Two, not much in Act One — and strung the play with attempted cleverness, like candy apples on a Christmas tree. The director, Andrew Ruthven, hasn't found the combination to make this work, but I don't think anyone could. Adams provides a ray of hope in the final moments, so inappropriate that I would have cringed, had I any cringes left. Gifted actors do their best to elevate a play that doesn't take itself seriously, but fail to achieve lift-off. Through July 29. Main Street Theater — Rice Village, 2540 Times Blvd., 713-524-6706. — JJT

Life Could Be a Dream Another jukebox musical — the time is the '60s and the music is doo-wop — delivers nostalgia, charm and warm good feelings, but this time with a plot as well. The setting is a basement rec room where the slacker kids hang out, and, yes, "Get a Job" is amusingly staged, with the unseen mother chiming in on an intercom system. Denny (Adam Gibbs) is leader of the singing group, and he's the one with some show-business polish. Eugene (Mark Ivy) is a stereotypical nerd, and friend Wally (Dylan Godwin) drops in and joins the Denny and the Dreamers group; his trademark signature is enthusiasm. The group expands to include Skip (Cameron Bautsch), a mechanic from the wrong part of town; his trademark is to look hunky, which doesn't go unnoticed by Lois (Rebekah Stevens), whose uptight dad is a snob. The suspense is whether the group can get its act together to win a local contest being held the coming Saturday. Director and choreographer Mitchell Greco keeps the pace clipping along, and the voices are pleasant enough to carry the 20-plus songs, such as "A Sunday Kind of Love" and "Unchained Melody." Godwin has the greatest range, most intelligent rendition and impeccable phrasing. There are a lot of physical comedy and broad reactions, and these are appropriate and work well. The finale has a Chorus Line moment that lets us escape the basement and the irritating mother on the intercom. All this is created by Roger Bean, who wrote the long-running hit The Marvelous Wonderettes. This musical, intended for light summer fare, delivers on its promise, providing humor and nostalgia and letting us again relive the tuneful melodies of the '60s. Through September 2. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Pkwy., 713-527-0123. — JJT

The Lion King Courtesy of Galexa Energy Broadway, Disney's The Lion King roars into town with its menagerie of spectacle, stagecraft and human emotions grafted onto a pride of lions, showcasing what inventive minds can accomplish with unlimited funds and unlimited imaginations. Animal puppetry is brought to exciting life by human actors. The giraffes and the elephants are remarkably realistic, while others, such as the prancing oryxes and the menacing and seductive cheetah, convince through movement. There are singers and tom-tom drummers in the loges, birds fluttering in the sky, and the animals parade down the aisle and enter to crowd the stage with delight. The plot is old lion/young lion, but the drama comes from the love between the boy lion Simba and Mufasa, his father and ruler. His uncle, Scar, is crippled with envy, and he has the hyenas on his side, a marvel of fascination — evil, adroit, brilliantly imagined and crafted, and all too human. A young lioness, Nala, is a pal to Simba in the first Act, and becomes more in Act II, when the lions have grown to maturity. An amusing hornbill, Zazu, watches over Simba, and Simba is befriended by a meerkat, Timon, and a warthog, Pumbaa; they are eminently likable and amusing. This musical is also a ballet, and the choreography by Garth Fagan is striking and hugely important. The songs are wonderful, especially the exuberant "I Just Can't Wait to Be King," the evil "Chow Down" and the haunting "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" The music and lyrics are by Elton John and Tim Rice, the direction and costume design are by Julie Taymor, and she and Michael Curry designed the entrancing masks and puppets. A brilliant collaboration of theatrical geniuses has created an awesome blockbuster of overwhelming pleasure. Through August 12. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby, 800-952-6560. — JJT

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