If movies are one of my true loves, then television is more like the distant mistress I call up every now and again. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed journeying away from the silver screen for my past two A&E articles. As such, I’d like to extend my holiday from the movies a little while longer””at least until the doldrums of spring are over and a decent indie or badass “Avengers” picture comes out. And on today’s excursion, I’d like to talk to you about theatre. More specifically, I’d like to talk about theatre right here in San Antonio.
Let’s begin with a clarification: I’m not talking about the great touring extravaganzas that parade in and out of the Majestic and the Tobin. I’m talking about the homegrown stuff, about the wondrous theatrical worlds created almost entirely by devoted and talented locals. I haven’t seen as many local theatre productions as I want to, but I’ve seen enough of them to tell you this: these theaters are just as essential to San Antonio’s vibrant culture as First Fridays and Fiestaritas. Here are just a few of them:
Classic Theater: Located on Fredericksburg Road, the Classic, as its name suggests, often puts an emphasis on, erm, the classics. Handsome productions of Shakespeare and Moliere are a house specialty, as are classical theatre education programs like “Shakes Alive” and “Classics In ACTion.” However, they’ve also proven adept at staging more recent works like the 2001 Pulitzer Prize Winner “Proof.” Still, it’s their knowledge of and passion for the plays of days past that make them a unique contributor to the San Antonio theatre scene.
Attic Rep: Once stationed in a cozy corner of Trinity’s theatre building, this small, smart theatre company recently won a well-deserved residency stint at the Tobin. Conceiving of theatre as a “social entity,” the Attic focuses on staging, especially provocative or challenging works in hopes of creating what they call “theatre worth talking about.” Based on their awesomely scalding production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” I think they’re quite skilled at achieving this goal. A small band of gifted actors who’ve gone after a thrilling and gutsy mission.
Woodlawn Theater: While the Attic frequently caters to folks who get a kick out of Albee or Brecht, the Woodlawn often focuses on those who luxuriate in the bright light of Broadway. Known from their exuberant stagings of big, glitzy musicals like “Peter Pan” and “La Cage Aux Folles,” the Woodlawn folks work hard to make the space into a musical theatre mecca, a goal they further by bringing in Broadway greats for one-off concerts. Bring back Christine Ebersole, guys!
Playhouse: With the San Antonio Playhouse, the key word is “variety.” They run big musical productions in their Russell Hill Rogers Theatre, and they showcase intimate, heady drama in a smaller space called “the Cellar.” They’ve got an eagle eye for local talent, and, as a fan of obscure musicals, I can also say that they have an eagle eye for beautiful tuners (“The Last Five Years”) that don’t get done nearly enough in the Lone Star State.
The Magik: Focused on education, imagination and accessibility, the Magik is San Antonio’s premier children’s theater. They put on polished, often stunning productions of children’s book adaptations, dishing out kid-friendly wonder without dumbing it down. They also do lots of broader outreach to the community via workshops, field trips and their “Camp Biz” program.
So there you have it. Go to their websites. Check out their seasons. And don’t forget to support another great local theatre group: the one situated in Ruth Taylor and comprised of your classmates.