For four nights out of the year, local attorneys, judges and other legal professionals step away from their stern courtrooms and onto the theatrical stage to poke fun at their own careers.
“Frankly, they’re all hams. They love to perform,” says Preston Hollow resident Martha Hofmeister.
She has directed the musical variety show, “Bar None,” since its inception 30 years ago. The Dallas Bar Association sponsors the annual program, which raises money for the Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarship Fund at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. The show has raised $1.7 million to date.
This month “Bar None” celebrates its three decades with a best-of show June 10-13, themed, “XXX Obscenely Funny.” Hofmeister and the writers often draw from current events and pop culture for material. (Past themes have been included, “Mrs. Reasonable Doubtfire” in 1993, and “Harry Potter Stewart and the Disappearing Miranda Rights” in 2000.)
The show is two-thirds music and one-third skits, and everyone who auditions plays a role.
“We have five or six people who can do everything, three who can do nothing, and everyone else in between,” Hofmeister says.
In the beginning, the talent among the legal community surprised most audience members who attended with low expectations, or to simply see their friends perform.
“Most of them have done something [in musical theater], but we’ve also had people who have never set foot on a stage before.”
Although comedy is at the core, the 55 cast members aren’t just goofing off, Hofmeister says. It’s a professionally produced show.
Hofmeister was just 26 years old and fresh out of law school, when she became the “Bar None” director in 1986. She served on the DBA’s entertainment committee and had directed a similar show at UT Law School called “Assault and Flattery.”
After launching “Bar None,” she met her husband, Kent, another lawyer and rock-and-roll musician who played in a band called Catdaddies.
“I just showed up for an audition,” he says, and he’s been a part of the show ever since.
This year’s lineup includes a “Gangnam Style” dance and a “Blurred Lines” rendition. To end the show, they’ll perform the Book of Mormon song “I Believe,” but instead call it “You Should Leave.” Another popular skit, “The Texas Tool,” spoofs personal injury lawyer Jim Adler, known for his “Texas Hammer” ads. Playing off the Dos Equis commercials, the show also features, “the most interesting tax lawyer in the world.”
These singers and dancers may have one of the most hated jobs in America, but “Bar None” makes it hard not to love them.
“This is not something most lawyers would do,” Hofmeister points out. “I think [our community] is different. They have an ability to take the profession very seriously and yet recognize there are things about it that are funny. We’re doing the profession a service. We’re saying, ‘We get it.’ ”
The 30th annual Bar None runs June 10-13 at the Greer Garson Theatre at SMU, 6100 Hillcrest. For ticket information and other details, visit barnoneshow.com.
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