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Houston Theater: Xmas Stockings & Xmas Sockings

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Dear Theater Santa:

Candy canes and full stockings to the many Houston theaters which do such brilliant work. Here's a small sampling from a cornucopia of talent, in no particular order (followed by, Dear Santa, things we'd like to see changed in the next year):

Theatre Southwest and Theatre UpStage for tackling for the first time the Mt. Everest that is Shakespeare.

Obsidian Art Space for providing a venue for the nomadic but talented smaller troupes.

Catastrophic Theatre for demonstrating that great art can be created even in a mini-theater, and for bringing us Tamarie Cooper.

The Frenetic Theatre for presenting the Houston Fringe Festival, and for its brilliant War of the Worlds.

Stage Door, Pasadena for consistently high humor, exuberant casts, and especially for the triumphant Evil Dead.

Pasadena Little Theatre for an excellent To Kill a Mockingbird and for the hand rails in the aisles that aid the elderly.

University of Houston for Wild Oats, where brilliant staging and acting freshened an old play into a work of genius.

Houston Family Arts Center for so many professional productions in a strip mall, and for sending Kissless and its cast to Manhattan.

Alley, Main Street Theatre, Stages and The Country Playhouse for each running two theatres, when running one would daunt many.

Theaters hard to find that are worth the effort: Encore Players at KVAPC (Katy Visual and Performing Arts Center), Applause Theatre Company, Company OnStage, Theatre Suburbia and Playhouse 1960, others.

And, finally and most of all, thanks to the talented actors, often working for little or no pay, and sometimes driving long distances to their theater, who grace our stages with the fire of their art.

Christmas Sockings: A lump of coal and a hand mirror to the theaters (you know who you are) which:

Cast age-inappropriate actors, who usually can be found listed on the Board of Directors.

Stage weak plays because they have small, inexpensive casts.

Permit actors to march downstage and show off their acting talents to the audience, abandoning the play.

Can't distinguish between humor and bickering, and make brilliant comedies unpalatable.

Permit actors with poor diction and/or a failure to project to muddy a script.

Re-stage ancient chestnuts for the umpteenth time.

And to all, a good fight.

-- Jim J. Tommaney

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