News & Notes Page 2 of 127
Stage West Names Mainstage for Jerry Russell
The Fort Worth group's mainstage becomes the Jerry Russell Theatre, honoring the founder and longtime artistic director. Studio Theatre naming rights are available.

published Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Photo: Buddy Myers
Jerry Russell as Clarence Darrow

Fort Worth — Jerry Russell, the man who founded Stage West 40 years ago and is considered one of North Texas' great theatrical innovators, will have his name on the mainstage at the Fort Worth institution. The group's main performance space will be called the Jerry Russell Theatre.

Russell, a producer, director, and actor, died in 2013 at age 77. For years, the theater had been transitioning the organization's leadership; Dana Schultes, who was mentored by Russell, is now Executive Producer.

The group is also offering naming rights for its Studio Theatre, which is about to undergo renovation.

You can read more about it in the official news release from Stage West below:


Stage West is pleased to announce the theatre’s main stage space is being renamed the Jerry Russell Theatre, in honor of the organization’s beloved founder and long-time leader, Jerry Russell.

Stage West was founded on October 18, 1979 by Jerry Russell, on Houston Street in downtown Fort Worth. The first space was a 65-seat storefront theatre next to Russell’s European Sandwich Shoppe. The success of the first production necessitated the merging of the two spaces into a modest dinner theatre seating around 100. Before the end of the second season, Stage West had formed a Board of Directors, and moved to a new 9,000 square foot space at 821 W Vickery, converting the former warehouse into a theatre with a spacious front area. The theatre would remain at this location for ten more seasons, growing its subscription base and professional status.

Investigating the possibility of owing its own space, Stage West eventually found its way to the old TCU movie theatre at the corner of University Drive and Berry Street. After ten exciting years, the theatre sold that building and moved to the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.  In time, the group discovered that its former space on Vickery was still available, and following a four-month renovation, Stage West opened its doors again at the Vickery location. And now, as of January 2018, Stage West officially owns its own building.

The spirit of Jerry’s original model is still in place.  And the group is now expanding and renovating its home to more fully reflect the legacy started by Jerry - a professional theatre destination serving Fort Worth, Dallas, and beyond with innovative and entertaining stories that entertain, inspire, and challenge us, and creating an indelible imprint on the cultural landscape of Fort Worth.

Temporary signage will be put into place near the entrance to the main stage space, and once the renovations for the current Setting the Stage for the Future are complete, a more permanent treatment will installed. With the naming of the Jerry Russell Theatre, Stage West would also like to announce that naming rights are currently available for the second space (currently known as The Studio) for $400,000.00. This space will undergo extensive renovations in the coming year, complete with state of the art equipment and a flexible seating area with up to 200 seats.

Dallas Opera Cancels Plácido Domingo
The Dallas Opera cancels a 2020 performance with the Spanish opera superstar after more sexual misconduct allegations.

published Thursday, September 5, 2019

Photo: File photo
Plácido Domingo

Dallas — On Thursday, the Dallas Opera made the following announcement regarding the March concert with Spanish opera superstar Plácido Domingo:

"In light of ongoing developments regarding allegations made against Plácido Domingo, The Dallas Opera has decided to cancel the March 11, 2020 gala, in which he was scheduled to perform. Information on future TDO special events will be announced at a later date."

In August, the famed tenor was accused of sexual misconduct by several women. Today, the Associated Press released a story stating that 11 more allegations have been made, including from Angela Turner Wilson, a soprano who is on the faculty at Texas Christian University. Several concert and other engagements by Domingo had already been canceled.

TACA Funds New Works and Residencies
Seven theater, dance and music organizations nab New Works grants; and four receive artist residency funds.

published Thursday, September 5, 2019
Photo: Courtesy
From left, visual artist Carmen Menza and playwright Gloria Bond Clunie


Dallas — The 2019 TACA New Works Fun and Artist Residence Funds have been announced. In the New Works category, which began in 2012, there have typically been three or four arts organizations sharing $100,000; this year that amount has been bumped up to $150,000, and is split between seven groups: Cry Havoc Theater Co., Dallas Children's Theater, Dallas Sympony, Dallas Theater Center, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Junior Players, and Undermain Theatre. Another $70,000 goes to Avant Chamber Ballet, Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas, Dallas Symphony and Junior Players in the Artist Residency Fund.


Here is the complete news release from TACA:

TACA (The Arts Community Alliance) has announced the 2019 recipients of the TACA New Works Fund and the TACA Artist Residency Fund. A diverse group of nine arts organizations – representing dance, instrumental music, choral music and theater – will receive 11 grants totaling $220,000 to create new works or to support artist residencies in North Texas. 

Photo: Courtesy
Playwright Don X. Nguyen

“TACA is thrilled to announce a record $220,000 to support the creation of new works and fund artist residencies in North Texas,” said Wolford McCue, TACA Carlson president and executive director. “We offer our deepest gratitude to the Hersh Foundation, Sapphire Foundation, and Donna Wilhelm Family Fund for their support of the New Works Fund and the Bowdon Family Foundation and Rea Charitable Trust for their support of the Artist Residency Fund.”

“This year, we’re thrilled to be funding a record seven New Works Fund grant recipients, including first-time grantees Cry Havoc Theater Co., Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, and Junior Players,” McCue added.  “We’re also increasing our distribution to the Artist Residency Fund to $70,000, a 40 percent increase from last year.   Avant Chamber Ballet and Dallas Symphony Orchestra are receiving the grant for the first time.”

Launched in 2012, the TACA New Works Fund was established to support the development and performance of innovative new works of music, dance, and theater in Dallas County. To date, the New Works Fund has provided $900,000 in grants to support 28 new works including Everest by Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer at The Dallas Opera and Chasing Home by Albert Drake and Joseph Thalken at Bruce Wood Dance. 


2019 New Works Fund


Cry Havoc Theater Co. - $25,000

H2O, by Mara Richards Bim


Dallas Children’s Theater - $25,000

Last Stop on Market Street, by Gloria Bond Clunie, Matt de la Peña, vickie washington, M. Denise Lee, and Robyn Flatt


Dallas Symphony Orchestra - $15,000

Negotiating Dialogues, by Carmen Menza, Mark Menza, Eric Farrar, Joel Olivas, and musicians of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; as part of the DSO’s Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival


Dallas Theater Center - $20,000

The Supreme Leader, by Don X. Nguyen


Photo: Courtesy
Playwrights Erin Burdette and Michael Federico will create a work for Junior Players

Dark Circles Contemporary Dance - $25,000

PETE: A New Dance Musical, by Joshua L. Peugh


Junior Players - $15,000

Junior Players Presents: The Aftermath, by Erin Burdette and Michael Federico


Undermain Theatre - $25,000

He’s Born, He’s Borne, by David Rabe


“In our upcoming documentary/verbatim piece, H2O, the teens of Cry Havoc and I will collect interviews from across the country and from across the political spectrum on the pressing issue of climate change. The immediacy of the topic and the resulting outcry of youth from across the globe makes this project particularly relevant at this moment,” said Founder Mara Richards Bim.  “Creating new work like H2O takes time and resources and champions like TACA and the funders who support the New Works Program.  I'm profoundly grateful for their vision and dedication to the development of new work and for their support of this project.”

“The grant from the TACA New Work Fund will allow our vision and our impact to expand, giving our community more opportunities to see their stories reflected on stage; for them to feel, experience, and participate in the practice of art-making in their own classrooms and neighborhoods,” stated Chadi El-Khoury, executive director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance.

“Junior Players is excited for the opportunity to expand their artistic repertoire by nurturing the voice of our youth and community artists.  Thanks to TACA and their generous donors, Junior Players will be able to create a new work that expounds on the topics and conversations highlighted in our recently piloted initiative titled: Junior Players Champions and Challenges - a broadcast journalism program,” said Junior Players’ Rosaura Cruz, Executive Director. “This production, The Aftermath, focuses on local stories that reflect our everyday lives.  You will embark on a journey of turning points, choices, decisions from the lens of the next generation of change agents. These stories are not a vehicle of answers, but a request to question and create social change. Inevitable, universally meaningful, and illuminating, this is The Aftermath.”

In 2015, TACA developed the TACA Artist Residency Fund in response to the 2014 TACA Perforum symposium when the local arts community expressed a need for greater support of unique artist-community engagement opportunities. To date, the fund has distributed $370,000 to 17 residencies including Jamal Story’s residency with Dallas Black Dance Theatre and playwright Jonathan Norton’s current residency at Dallas Theater Center.  The fund supports the development of innovative artistic residency programs in Dallas County while fostering meaningful interaction among arts organizations, artists, and the greater community.


2019 Artist Residency Fund


Photo: Lynn Lane
Choreographer Jennifer Mabus

Avant Chamber Ballet - $15,000

Residency of choreographer and dance artist Jennifer Mabus


Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas - $10,000

Residency of Dallas Black Dance Theatre: Encore!, Orpheus Chamber Singers, cellist Gayane Manasjan and her string quartet, and storyteller DeeCee Cornish


Dallas Symphony Orchestra - $13,000

Residency of musician and composer Julia Wolfe


Junior Players - $32,000

Residency of Shelby Doroshow, Shannon Hart, Yolanda Williams


"Avant Chamber Ballet is honored to receive the Artist in Residency grant for the first time. The funding will not only fund the creation of a new work by Jennifer Mabus for Women's Choreography Project but also fund her residency with local youth non-profits. The new work will be a true collaboration of our dancers, musicians, choreographer and the community, " said Katie Cooper, Artistic Director. 

“We are honored to be a first-time recipient of the TACA Artist Residency Fund,” said Kim Noltemy, Dallas Symphony Orchestra President & CEO. “This award will support the work of our Composer-in-Residence Julia Wolfe. The DSO is a co-commissioner of Wolfe’s new work, Fountain of Youth, which will receive its Dallas premiere in January 2020 with Music Director Designate Fabio Luisi. She will also play a central role in this April’s Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival, both in performances of her works and in educational opportunities with Dallas students. We are grateful to TACA for their visionary leadership in bringing new work and thought-provoking performances to the Dallas community.”

A panel of local and national artists and arts managers narrowed applicant organizations through a competitive application and review process followed by interviews by local nonprofit and arts experts.  Panelists selected the recipients based on the innovativeness and merit of their project, the inclusion of artistic collaborations, and the quality of engagement of target audiences.

In addition to these two funds, TACA provided $750,000 in general operating grants to 48 performing and visual arts organizations in January 2019. Since its founding in 1967, TACA has distributed more than $29 million to over 160 arts organizations.



2019 TACA Artist Residency Fund Jurors

Adam Adolfo – Director of Marketing & Community Engagement, Bishop Arts Theatre Center

Laura Barbee – Dance Teaching Artist, Texas Christian University

Ariel Bradler – Executive Director, Theatre Puget Sound

Sam Brukhman – Artistic Director, Verdigris Ensemble

Lily Cabatu Weiss – Executive Director, Dallas Arts District

William George-Twyman – Head of Choral Studies, Booker T. Washington HSPVA

Leonard Hayes – Head of Piano Studies, Booker T. Washington HSPVA

Brea Heidelberg – Assistant Professor and Associate Program Director, Drexel University

Denise Lee – CEO Denise Lee Onstage and Change the Perception

Carmen Menza – Artist, Menza Art Studio

Rachel Naomi Wade – Director, Arlington Heights Dance Department, Fort Worth ISD

Ilknur Ozgur – Founder, Artstillery

Suzanne Smith – Founder and CEO, Social Impact Architects

Alex Turrini – Chair of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship, Southern Methodist University

Anna Wittstruck Gottlieb – Director of Orchestra, University of Puget Sound


2019 TACA New Works Fund Jurors

Matthew Albert – Chair of Chamber Music, University of Michigan

Susan Douglas Roberts – Professor of Dance, Texas Christian University

Emily Ernst – Professor of theatre, University of Nebraska

Erica Felicella – Owner, Cella Arts

Danielle Georgiou – Artistic Director, Danielle Georgiou Dance Group

Leah Harris – Director of Community Engagement, Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Dr. Samuel Holland – Dean and Professor of Music, Southern Methodist University

Parisa Khobdeh – Principal Dancer, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Company; Artistic Director and Choreographer, Parisa Khobdeh Dance Company

Peter Kupfer – Associate Professor of Musicology, Southern Methodist University

Bridget L. Moore – Artistic Director, B. Moore Dance

Clint Riley – Nonprofit Arts Executive

Liz Sankarsingh – Program Manager, Ignite Arts Dallas, Southern Methodist University

Joanie Schultz-Milioto – Theater Director

Audra Scott – Head of Opera Studies, Booker T. Washington HSPVA

Regina Taylor – Writer, Actor, Director, Producer

Christopher Treviño – Assistant Technical Director, University of Texas at Dallas

Corinne Woods – Director of Programs, Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York

New Stages in Irving
Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas is getting a new facility for productions, rehearsal space and storage; will continue at Irving Arts Center as well.

published Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Photo: Courtesy
Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas\' new home


Later this year, one of DFW's largest community theaters, Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas, will open the doors on a new home. The new space will replace the former Ruddy Seppy Rehearsal Studio that the organization has maintained for years.

The new home will have rehearsal space, indoor and outdoor stages, and more storage. The company will continue to produce a five-show subscription season at the Irving Arts Center's Dupree Theater; the new home will allow for additional programming.

Speaking of the new season, the 2019-20 season of MainStage Irving-Las Colinas at the Irving Arts Center includes The Royal Dilemma, a co-production with ThinkIndia Foundation (September 12-28), A Chorus Line (November 1-9 in Carpenter Hall), Have Yourself A Broadway Little Christmas (December 12-14), Pride & Prejudice (January 25-February 8), Inherit the Wind (March 20-April 4), Disaster! The Musical (May 8-23), and How The Other Half Loves (July 17-August 1). Programing at the new MainStage 222 will be announced at a later date.

More about the new space is below, from the news release:


It’s almost show time in downtown Irving! The Heritage District will soon be abuzz with song, dance and more with new stages recently leased by the city’s premier theater group – MainStage Irving-Las Colinas. Adopting the former Texas Musicians Museum at 222 East Irving Blvd, MainStage Irving-Las Colinas will now manage the venue as MainStage 222. The non-profit organization’s new home will feature indoor and outdoor stages as well as rehearsal space, storage, and a scenic-building facility. The theater company will continue its traditional production series at the Irving Arts Center. The new space will allow the organization to increase its production offerings with a variety of performances to be presented in downtown Irving.

“MainStage Irving-Las Colinas’ 50+ year success demonstrates the incredible amount of support Irving contributes to our thriving local arts scene,” IrvingMayor Rick Stopfer states. He continues, “I’m thrilled to see this local organization not only make use of this terrific facility, but to see how they create new performance opportunities for our residents to enjoy and participate.”

A ribbon cutting and open house event will officially open MainStage 222 on Thursday, October 3, 2019 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The community is invited; entertainment and light refreshments will be provided.

Clayton Cunningham, president of the MainStage board of directors states, “We are so excited to move in to our new home and make it a place for which the Irving community can enjoy a variety of great performances.” Board member and long-time Irving resident Tom Ortiz continues, “I’ve lived in Irving all my life and I can’t wait to introduce our theater to more residents of our great city. MainStage is honored to play a role in contributing to the downtown Irving scene. We look forward to welcoming everyone at 222 East Irving Boulevard.”

Now providing arts and entertainment on four Irving stages in two locations, MainStage will not only expand their live arts events, but will also offer the MainStage 222 as a rental facility for outside theatres, musicians, meetings and events. MainStage is excited to partner with the City of Irving to support local community outreach opportunities like the Irving Main Street Festival, Independence Day Parade, and much more.

For tickets and information to MainStage Irving-Las Colinas’ productions, visit  MainStage Irving-Las Colinas is an IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization and is funded in part by the City of Irving through the Irving Arts Board.

Chita and Kelli Join DSM Gala
The Dallas Summer Musicals Gala in November will feature Chita Rivera, Kelli O'Hara and Amber Riley. Tickets go on sale Friday.

published Monday, July 8, 2019
Photo: Courtesy
Kelli O'Hara



Dallas — The annual gala for Dallas Summer Musicals has been announced, and much like its 2018 gala, the 2019 edition is filled with bigtime Broadway stars, notably legend Chita Rivera, and Tony-winning Kelli O'Hara. Joining them is Amber Riley, best known for playing Mercedes in the TV show Glee.

The event is Nov. 1, 2019 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, and tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday, July 12.

Below is the complete news release from Dallas Summer Musicals:


Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) announced today that single tickets for An Evening with the Best of Broadway, the highly anticipated concert finale to the 2019 DSM Gala, will go on sale Friday, July 12, 2019 at 10 a.m.

On November 1, DSM will celebrate the magic of musical theatre and the culmination of a successful annual Gala by bringing an extraordinary trio of award-winning women to the Music Hall at Fair Park for one night only. The evening’s lineup includes Tony Award® winner Kelli O’Hara and Olivier Award winner Amber Riley, and will be hosted by Tony Award® winner and Kennedy Center Honoree Chita Rivera. In continuation of DSM’s newest Gala tradition, surprise special guests will also be making appearances throughout the evening.

Single tickets for An Evening with the Best of Broadway start at $25 (pricing subject to change) and are available at or by phone at 800-982-2787. They can also be purchased in person at the Music Hall at Fair Park Box Office Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by calling (214) 426-4768 or emailing

Photo: Laura Marie Duncan
Chita Rivera

Rivera, who will serve as the evening’s emcee, is one of the most decorated performers of all time. Throughout her career, she has earned 10 Tony Award® nominations, won twice and in 2018 received the special Tony Award® for Lifetime Achievement in the theatre. Rivera was a 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 and was honored as a Living Landmark in 2018. Rivera had starring roles in many Broadway productions including Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman, but is best known for originating the role of Anita in the Broadway premiere of West Side Story. Most recently, Rivera starred in The Visit on Broadway. 

O’Hara is one of Broadway’s most respected and admired leading ladies. She has received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle nominations for her roles in The Pajama Game, South Pacific, Nice Work If You Can Get It and The Bridges of Madison County, and won the 2015 Tony Award® for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Anna Leonowens in the Broadway revival of The King and I. Most recently, O’Hara received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for her starring role in the 2019 Broadway revival of Kiss Me Kate. In addition to her work on the stage, she received an Emmy Award nomination for her role as Katie Bonner in the hit web series “The Accidental Wolf.” O’Hara’s other film and television credits include Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, Sex and the City 2, Martin Scorsese’s The Key to Reserva, Blue Bloods and Numb3rs.

Riley received the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as “Effie White” in the West End premiere of Dreamgirls. She is best known for her role as Mercedes Jones in the hit television show Glee, which became a cultural phenomenon earning four Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes, including Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical in 2010. In 2013, Riley won the coveted mirror ball trophy as the season 17 champion of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars alongside her partner Derek Hough. She also starred in NBC’s The Wiz Live! with Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige, and most recently Riley appeared as Kali in Tyler Perry’s 2018 film, Nobody’s Fool.

Prior to the public performance, Dallas Summer Musicals will host its annual 2019 DSM Gala – An Evening with the Best of Broadway, co-chaired by Helen & Brendan McGuire and Calvert Collins-Bratton & Vince Bratton, which celebrates DSM and the magic of musical theatre. Participation in the 2019 DSM Gala will support the nonprofit DSM in its mission to bring the very best of Broadway to North Texas, develop appreciation of musical theatre among diverse audiences and foster meaningful arts experiences for children and families in our community. Since 1941, DSM has contributed to the rich cultural history of Dallas and North Texas bringing award-winning musical theatre productions to the region. DSM has received countless accolades and holds a special place in the hearts of the nearly twenty-five million patrons it has entertained.

DSM’s remarkable 2019-2020 season lineup, featuring Dear Evan Hansen and Disney’s Frozen, provides opportunities for meaningful and significant education and community programming for children and families. Each year, DSM continues to build upon its community impact through the DSM High School Musical Theatre Awards (in national partnership with The Broadway League), Seats for Kids, Seats for Vets, Kids Club and Hear Us Now. The Gala will benefit these programs as well as DSM’s growing portfolio of diverse, innovative and immersive education programming to engage our neighbors – people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

Gala guests will enjoy an incredible culinary experience, a silent auction featuring luxury items, valet parking and meet-and-greet opportunities prior to and following the An Evening with the Best of Broadway performance. This will be a wonderful opportunity to indulge in everything patrons love about Broadway and DSM at the historic Music Hall at Fair Park.

Gala giving opportunities are available here or by contacting the DSM Development Department at 214-426- 6333 or


Photo: Courtesy
Amber Riley

About Dallas Summer Musicals:

For more than 75 years, the non-profit Dallas Summer Musicals Inc. (DSM) has presented the very best in Broadway to North Texas audiences. Located in the historic Music Hall at Fair Park, DSM promotes excellence in live musical theatre with year-round performances for diverse audiences of all ages, impacting the lives of children and families through education and community outreach programs, while enriching the cultural landscape of North Texas and the Southwest Region.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, DSM relies on a variety of funding sources to offer affordable ticket prices, preserve the beautiful historic theatre, educate young audiences and develop impactful community programs.

DSM gratefully acknowledges the support of our season sponsors, annual fund donors and corporate partners American Airlines, Texas Instruments, The Dallas Morning News, and WFAA TV Channel 8. For more information about Dallas Summer Musicals, please call 214.421.5678 or visit our website at


About Chita Rivera:

A theatrical icon and one of Broadway's greatest triple-threat talents, Chita Rivera is one of the most nominated performers in Tony Award history having earned 10 nominations, won twice and received the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

A versatile actress/singer/dancer, she recently starred in The Visit, the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele on Broadway, the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Broadway and touring productions of The Dancer’s Life, a dazzling new musical celebrating her spectacular career, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Graciela Daniele and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. She trained as a ballerina (from age nine) before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Chita’s first appearance (age 17) was as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam. Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry’s Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can- Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful. On tour: Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba, Can-Can with The Rockettes.

Chita was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009 and received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in 2002. In 2019, Chita performed her solo concert at London’s Cadogan Hall; in 2018 she was honored as a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy; in 2016 she headlined at Carnegie Hall and in 2015, Great Performances aired their special Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do, a retrospective of her extraordinary life and career nationally on PBS. Her current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing. Her most treasured production is her daughter, singer/dancer/choreographer Lisa Mordente.


About Kelli O’Hara:

Stage and screen star Kelli O’Hara most recently starred in the Broadway revival of Kiss Me Kate for which she received a 2019 Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actress in A Musical. Kelli received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Actress In A Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her portrayal of Katie Bonner in the hit web series “The Accidental Wolf”. On Broadway, Kelli’s portrayal of Anna Leonowens in the critically acclaimed revival of The King and I garnered her the 2015 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, along with Grammy, Drama League, Outer Critics and Oliver nominations.

She then reprised her Tony Winning role while making her West End debut this past summer for which The Times hailed her as “Broadway musical’s undisputed queen” adding “Kelli O’Hara does not just play Anna, she owns the part”. Other Broadway credits include The Bridges of Madison County (Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, OCC nominations), Nice Work If You Can Get It (Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, OCC nominations), South Pacific (Tony, Drama Desk, OCC nominations), The Pajama Game (Tony, Drama Desk, OCC nominations), The Light in the Piazza (Tony & Drama Desk nominations), Sweet Smell of Success, Follies, Dracula, and Jekyll & Hyde. Regional/Off Broadway credits include Far From Heaven (Playwrights Horizons and WTF), King Lear (Public Theater), Bells Are Ringing (City Center Encores), Sunday in the Park with George (Reprise), and My Life With Albertine (Playwright’s Horizons).

Kelli received a 2018 Webby nomination for her role in the hit web-series thriller The Accidental Wolf and appears in the second season of Netflix’s series 13 Reasons Why. Other film and television credits include All The Bright Places, Sex & The City 2, Martin Scorsese’s The Key to Reserva, Showtime’s Masters of Sex, CBS All Access’ The Good Fight, Blue Bloods, Alexander Hamilton, N3mbers, and the animated series Car Talk. In 2015, Kelli made her Metropolitan Opera debut in The Merry Widow. She returned to the opera this past spring as Despina in Così fan tutte.

Her concerts have gained international acclaim, spanning from New York’s Carnegie Hall all the way to Tokyo. She is a frequent performer on PBS’s live telecasts and the Kennedy Center Honors. Along with two Grammy Award nominations, her solo albums, Always and Wonder in the World are available on Ghostlight Records.


About Amber Riley

Actress and singer Amber Riley is best known for her role as Mercedes Jones in the Golden Globe Award-winning musical comedy, Glee. She recently played the role of Kali in Tyler Perry’s Nobody’s Fool which premiered fall 2018. The film also stars Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, and Whoopi Goldberg. Riley recently wrapped a year-long run in her West End debut of the revival production of Dreamgirls in the iconic role of Effie White. The production marked the UK premiere of the award-winning production. Riley won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. In 2013, she won season 17 of ABC’s hit competition series Dancing with the Stars alongside her partner Derek Hough. Additional recent television appearances include a starring role in the UPtv original movie, My One Christmas Wish and a starring role alongside Queen Latifah, Mary J Blige and newcomer Shanice Williams as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North, in NBC’s live production of The Wiz. Riley’s numerous theatre credits include Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Into the Woods and Mystery on the Docks with the Los Angeles Opera. In November 2012, she made her New York stage debut to rave reviews in New York City Center’s Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade.

Self-Injurious Behavior Moves to LA
Jessica Cavanagh's Dallas-born play will have its world premiere in Los Angeles, with producers Joe Mantegna, Ronnie Marmo, Laura Buchwald and Bren Rapp.

published Saturday, July 6, 2019
Photo: Courtesy (Mantegna and Marmo); Jordan Fraker (Cavanagh)
From left, Joe Mantegna, Ronnie Marmo and Jessica Cavanagh


Dallas — Big news for Dallas actress/playwright Jessica Cavanagh: Her play Self-Injurious Behavior, which had a workshop at Theatre Three in May 2018 and then an off-Broadway showcase in April, will have its official world premiere in September at Ronnie Marmo's Theatre 68 in Los Angeles. The production, which will again be directed by Dallas' Marianne Galloway, has big names as executive producers: Marmo and Joe Mantegna, the Tony-winning actor (Glengarry Glen Ross) best known for the TV show Criminal Minds. Mantegna recently directed Marmo in I'm Not a Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce, which ran off-Broadway and is returning to LA.

The connection is Dallas-based Bren Rapp, who produced both Lenny Bruce and Self-Injurious Behavior in New York. Rapp and NYC-based Laura Buchwald will produce SIB in LA. The production is in association with Autism Works Now.

The play, based on Cavanagh's real-life experience as the mother of a severely autistic child, will again star Cavanagh, and Jude Segrest as her character's son, as well as Madison Calhoun from the Dallas and NYC cast. The rest of the ensemble will be recast.

You can read our original interview with Cavanagh here; as well as our reviews of the Dallas and New York productions.

The full news release about the LA production is below:


Photo: Jordan Fraker
Jude Segrest and Jessica Cavanagh in Self-Injurious Behavior

After a successful and critically acclaimed workshop run in the summer of 2018 in Dallas at Theatre Three, emerging playwright, Jessica Cavanagh, along with Dallas-based producer Bren Rapp, took her autobiographical play about motherhood under the most extreme circumstances, Self-Injurious Behavior, to New York for a 12 performance AEA showcase run at Urban Stages in April of 2019. It was there it caught the attention of veteran actor/director/producer Ronnie Marmo and Tony Winning star of stage and screen, Joe Mantegna. The two are now bringing the world premiere full production of Self-Injurious Behavior to North Hollywood and Marmo's Theatre 68 this September. Its run will be coupled with an effort to raise autism awareness and to reach out to the community of families living with loved ones on the spectrum, and those with autism themselves, through a special partnership with Autism Works Now.

Self-Injurious Behavior is based on playwright and star, Jessica Cavanagh’s own story of loss, love and survival in dealing with her son's autism diagnosis. When severely autistic, 11-year-old Benjamin becomes a danger to himself, his divorced mother, Summer, makes the excruciating decision to admit him to a home for special needs kids. Seeking comfort, she visits her sisters in Portland who desperately and hilariously attempt to distract her with a weekend of escapism at the local renaissance faire. Plagued by haunting dreams of her son and memories of her marriage, Summer is forced to face the need to let go. Resonating across audience demographics thanks to the play's bittersweet and unique blend of honesty and humor, in telling her story, Jessica Cavanagh has captured a voice that speaks to the power within us all to not only cope with our own “unimaginables” but to continue to live, making this a story not only about autism and motherhood, but about the resilience of the human spirit.

Along with Cavanagh, who will be reprising her lead role, Dallas based youth actor, Jude Segrest will again take the stage as Benjamin and Madison Calhoun will also round out the members of the original Dallas (and NY) cast anchoring the Los Angeles production. The rest of the ensemble hails from LA, New York and Portland. One of the most sought after directors in Dallas, Marianne Galloway, will again helm the project as director, having helped shaped the work in that capacity since its inception. Producing powerhouse, Bren Rapp, who has shifted her focus from mounting work in Dallas to getting Dallas based projects on their feet in larger commercial markets continues to forge a path for the work, with the addition of  New York based novelist and editor, Laura Buchwald, as a producer.

Marmo, Mantegna and Rapp have proved a formidable team, still riding the wave of the high profile success of I'm Not A Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce. The one man play written by and starring Ronnie Marmo, directed by Joe Mantegna and co-produced by Bren Rapp has run for over 200 performances between Los Angeles and New York, and having recently concluded a 9 month Off Broadway stint is now gearing up for a national tour. 

Joe Mantegna won the Tony Award for his performance as Richard Roma in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize winner, Glengarry Glen Ross. He has been nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes for his work including as Dean Martin in the mini-series The Ratpack and Pipi Delana in The Last Don. Among numerous TV credits, Mantegna just finished filming the 15th and final season of the wildly popular Criminal Minds (CBS) in his lead role as David Rossi, continues to voice the character of Fat Tony on The Simpsons and has also received critical acclaim for his work in the Emmy and People's Choice nominated Joan of Arcadia and The Starter Wife. His film credits span decades with memorable roles in features such as Searching for Bobby FischerGodfather IIIForget Paris and House of Games. In 2011 he received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ronnie Marmo has starred in more than 60 feature films and television shows. Most recently he guest starred on Criminal Minds (CBS) and Lethal Weapon (Fox). He enjoyed a 3 year run as Ronnie Dimestico on General Hospital (ABC). He also starred in Ammore E Malavita (Love and Bullets), an Italian film which won the 2018 David di Donatello for best picture (the Italian Equivalent to the Academy Award). Other film credits include Back in the Day, starring opposite of Alec Baldwin and Danny Glover (now on Netflix), Deuces WildCrocodile Dundee in LAWest of BrooklynPizza With BulletsDeath of A TreeIrish Eyes(aka Vendetta) and Limbo Lounge. With a prolific stage career, Marmo has produced over 100 plays, directed over 50 and starred in at least 40 on both coasts. Acclaimed roles include Danny in Danny and The Deep Blue Sea, Satan in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,  Silva in Baby Doll and Bill Wilson in Bill W and Dr. Bob. He was also the artistic director and producer of the critically heralded, first ever, 13 by Shanley Festival which enjoyed a 6 month run. He is the Artistic Director of Theatre 68 which operates in both Los Angeles and New York.

Autism Works Now provides workplace readiness skills resulting in meaningful, dignified employment for individuals with autism and related disorders. Their sole mission is employment for individuals with autism and related differences, with a goal of having small businesses completely owned, operated by and staffed with individuals on the spectrum within five years. California based Autism Works Now was a beneficiary of proceeds from the NY showcase, which coincided with Autism Awareness Month, and will again receive charitable support from this production as a percentage of all tickets sold will go to the organization, but Theatre 68 and the show's producers are taking the opportunity for outreach further with this world premiere. Participants of Autism Works Now's workplace readiness programs will be employed by the theatre on performance days, will receive training regarding various jobs involved in putting on theatrical productions and will have the opportunity to bring one of their operated businesses, their Glorious Pies pie truck, to performances to sell concessions. As well, talkbacks will be scheduled around performances with autism experts, celebrities and individuals on the spectrum to give audiences a chance to increase their awareness and understanding of those living with autism, especially those now becoming adults and aging out of programs aimed at children. Joe Mantegna, whose adult daughter Mia has autism and who has participated in Autism Works Now programs explains, "It is important to understand that this is a condition that does not go away. As much as we put emphasis on the issues that happen with children, what happens to them when they become adults?  They are adults a lot more years than they are children and we have to think beyond".  Playwright and star Jessica Cavanagh's own son is now entering adulthood and still in group care, making the issues addressed through the production's outreach efforts a fitting continuation to her story.



Theatre 68 Presents the World Premiere of Jessica Cavanagh's Self-Injurious Behavior

Directed by Marianne Galloway

Produced by Laura Buchwald and Bren Rapp

Presented In Special Partnership with Autism Works Now


Previews: Aug. 30-Sept. 1

Show Run: Sept. 7-28

Tickets go on sale July 22 at


All Performances are at:

Theatre 68

5112 Lankershim Blvd., 

North Hollywood, CA 91601

Moody Gives 175K to Arts Groups
The Moody Foundation gave grants of up to $5,000 to 47 small Dallas arts organizations. That's 25K more than last year.

published Friday, July 5, 2019

Photo: Bandan Koro
Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance Ensemble


Dallas — The Moody Fund for the Arts (MFA) today announced that it is awarding $175,000 in grants to 47 small Dallas arts organizations in its second year. This is $25,000 more than last year, and includes 11 first-time recipients. The maximum amount awarded for grants this year was $5,000. The projects represent theatre, music, visual art, dance, film, the written word and more. The grants support a strong cross section of the many small and emerging organizations in the vibrant cultural ecosystem of the nation’s ninth-largest city.

“Dallas has become a vibrant, creative hub for culture across a wide range of art forms,” said Francie Moody-Dahlberg, executive director and chairman of the Moody Foundation, which in 2017, endowed the Moody Fund for the Arts with a $10 million gift. “We are thrilled that the fund is able to support so many diverse and exciting projects in the Arts District, and across Dallas.”

MFA was created to provide grants to small and emerging Dallas arts groups that are supported by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and have annual budgets of less than $1 million.

This year’s grants will include funding assistance for world premieres, commissions and diversity projects, and some will provide general operating support. The selected projects comprise a wide range of genres, as well as ethnic and culturally specific groups, many targeting culturally under-served communities. Performance venues include Moody Performance Hall, the City’s cultural centers, community spaces and neighborhoods across Dallas.


2019 Moody Fund for the Arts Award Recipients

  • Academy of Bangla Arts and Culture
  • American Baroque Opera Company
  • Arga Nova Dance Co.
  • Avant Chamber Ballet
  • Bandan Koro African Drum & Dance Ensemble
  • Bruce Wood Dance
  • Cara Mía Theatre Co.
  • Chamber Music International
  • Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas
  • Color Me Empowered
  • Creative Arts Center of Dallas
  • Cry Havoc Theater Company
  • Dallas Chamber Symphony
  • Dallas Film Society
  • Dallas Metroplex Musicians Association
  • Dallas SPARK
  • Dance Council of North Texas
  • Deep Vellum Publishing
  • Fine Arts Chamber Players
  • Flamenco Fever
  • Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
  • Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation
  • Junior Players Guild
  • Kitchen Dog Theater Company
  • Make Art with Purpose
  • Metropolitan Winds
  • New Texas Symphony Orchestra
  • Orchestra of New Spain
  • Orpheus Chamber Singers
  • Over the Bridge Arts
  • Sammons Center for the Arts
  • Shakespeare Dallas
  • Soul Rep Theatre Company
  • South Dallas Concert Choir
  • Teatro Dallas
  • Teatro Flor Candela
  • Terrance M. Johnson Dance Project
  • Texas Winds Musical Outreach
  • The Artist Outreach
  • The Women's Chorus of Dallas
  • The Writer's Garret
  • Turtle Creek Chorale
  • Undermain Theatre
  • Uptown Players
  • USA Film Festival
  • Video Association of Dallas
  • WordSpace

The award decisions were made after an extensive peer review of all the applications, budgets and materials by the 2019 MFA Advisory Review Panel:

  • Ian Derrer, The Dallas Opera
  • Ella Goode-Johnson, Arts and Culture Advisory Commission
  • Diana Marquis, Catapult Fundraising
  • Jeffrey Schmidt, Theatre Three
  • Justin Urso, Texas Ballet Theater

The panel’s recommendations were then reviewed by the MFA Executive Committee:

  • Tracy Preston, The Neiman Marcus Group
  • Gail Sachson, Community Arts Leader
  • Jennifer Scripps, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs

Last year, the Moody Fund for the Arts awarded $150,000 to 36 small arts groups.

The Moody Fund for the Arts is a $10 million endowment that is part of a $22 million gift from the Moody Foundation to the arts in Dallas, including a $12 million gift to the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s capital campaign. In recognition of the generosity of the Galveston-based Moody Foundation, the City of Dallas renamed Dallas City

Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District to Moody Performance Hall. The Center’s staff provides administrative support for the fund. More information can be found on the MFA website,

Women Conductors Chosen
Six women conductors from four countries have been selected for the Dallas Opera's Linda and Mitch Hart Institute, plus four observers and three administrators.

published Thursday, May 30, 2019
Photo: Courtesy Dallas Opera
Clockwise from top left: Jiannan Cheng, Marta Kluczynska, Madeline Tsai, Molly Turner, Tamara Dworetz, and Tiffany Chang


Dallas — The Dallas Opera has announced the participants in its fifth annual Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors, which happens Oct. 27-Nov. 9, with a showcase concert on Nov. 9. Six conductors have been selected: three from the U.S., one from China, one from Taiwan and another from Poland.

There will also be four American observers and three administrators. The Distinguished 2019 Hart Institute Conducting Faculty Include Emmanuel Villaume, Nicole. Paiement, and Carlo Montanaro. Initial Support from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation Additional Support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,  Baker Botts LLP, Cindy and Charlie Feld, Jenifer and Peter Flynn, Susan and Mark Geyer, Holly and Tom Mayer, Betty and Steve Suellentrop, and Martha and Max Wells.

The institute is made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant Supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.


Here's the full news release, with info on the participants:

Dallas — The Dallas Opera is proud to announce the names of the 12 distinguished professionals (six conductors, three administrators, and four American observers) selected to participate in the fifth annual residency of the Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera taking place Oct. 27 – Nov. 9, 2019 in Dallas, Texas: 

  • Tiffany Chang (USA)
  • Jiannan Cheng (China) 
  • Tamara Dworetz (USA)
  • Marta Kluczyńska (Poland)
  • Madeline Tsai (Taiwan) 
  • Molly Turner (USA)

Working to address a long-standing issue at the podium, The Dallas Opera in 2015 launched a unique multifaceted program—one of a mere handful in the world—designed to provide training and career support for distinctively talented women conductors on the cusp of major international careers.  Female conductors, as well as accomplished women singers, opera coaches, accompanists, and instrumentalists with established careers seeking to further develop their skills at the podium, were encouraged to apply.

“Big D is my Big W,” observed Polish conductor Marta Kluczyńska.  “I feel awesome.”

“I was beyond thrilled to hear of my acceptance to the 2019 Dallas Opera's Hart Institute” wrote U.S. participant Tamara Dworetz.  “The opportunity to learn from world-class conductors, instrumentalists, opera singers and leaders will strengthen my skills and broaden my dimensionalism as a conductor while bolstering my career and professional network; I cannot thank Linda and Mitch Hart and the Dallas Opera enough for initiating and supporting this progressive and powerfully impactful program.”

This groundbreaking initiative received vital foundational support from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation.  Naming support came through the generosity of Linda and Mitch Hart.

Additional support for the 2019 Hart Institute comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Baker Botts LLP, Cindy and Charlie Feld, Jenifer and Peter Flynn, Susan and Mark Geyer, Holly and Tom Mayer, Betty and Steve Suellentrop, and Martha and Max Wells.

Made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Ian Derrer, The Dallas Opera’s Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO explains: “One of the ways we advance our art form and engage more people is by providing career advancement opportunities for gifted women conductors, ensuring they have the chance to compete for top-level positions in classical music.

“That’s why the Hart Institute was founded and why it will be needed for years to come.

“The support and passion of the TDO Family is behind this effort—more than ever.”

A total of 90 women conductors and professional musicians heeded the call in 2019, despite even more stringent admissions requirements initiated last year.  Applicants from 27 countries included music directors, principal and assistant conductors, concertmasters and music staff from top-ranked symphonies, opera companies, and conservatories.

Photo: Courtesy
Tiffany Chang

“Even for the most talented artists, a journey to the forefront of the conducting profession is difficult, and particularly so for women,” wrote Taiwanese conductor Madeline Tsai.  “The Dallas Opera's Linda and Mitch Hart Institute gives its residents a strong gust of wind forward as they sail toward their dreams on the horizon.

“I am immensely grateful and honored for this incredible opportunity to learn from an amazing faculty and other talented artists at the Institute.”

As is the case each year, four talented U.S. Observers were chosen to audit the 2019 Institute: Rebecca Henry, Jane Kim, Vera Volchansky and Rachel Waddell. 

The 2019 Linda and Mitch Hart Institute will consist of hands-on master classes with the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director, Emmanuel Villaume; TDO’s Martha R. and Preston A. Peak Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement and Carlo Montanaro, a renowned Italian conductor last seen on our podium conducting three world-class tenors (Michael Fabiano, Bryan Hymel and Matthew Polenzani) in TDO’s “One Night Only Gala.”

Sessions include career advancement seminars with experienced professionals; topical industry discussions; intensive one-on-ones and networking opportunities; as well as the chance to conduct The Dallas Opera Orchestra in a public concert in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center on the evening of November 9, 2019 (additional details to be announced at a later date). 

This year’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors is partnering with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural “Women in Classical Music Symposium” taking place November 6-9, 2019 in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, in order to provide even greater resources and connections for women in the field.

“I am delighted to work alongside our colleagues at The Dallas Opera as the Dallas Symphony launches its Women in Classical Music Symposium. The Hart Institute has established itself as an important event for women conductors, and their input while designing the symposium has been invaluable,” said Kim Noltemy, President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “Together, we are showing that the Dallas performing arts community is committing to a sustained effort to make changes in the industry.”

American conductor Molly Turner noted: “As a young conductor, getting into the Hart Institute opens so many doors traditionally left open only for older and often male conductors.”

“I'm humbled to have such a dedicated opportunity to focus on a genre and repertoire that are least familiar to me and to engage artistically with the excellent musicians and administration of The Dallas Opera” added US conductor Tiffany Chang.

“The Hart Institute appears to be having a pronounced positive impact on the field, with alumnae being singled out for important appointments, projects, and commissions in both the opera and symphonic world,” notes TDO’s Director of Artistic Administration David Lomeli.

Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America, earlier remarked: “The Dallas Opera continues to expand its influence and stature among American opera companies, as shown by this exciting new initiative.  The company is to be applauded for taking a significant step to remedy the existing gender imbalance on the podium.  This effort complements OPERA America’s support of the work of female opera composers and promises to enrich the art form by encouraging more gifted artists to express themselves through opera.” 

Chinese conductor Jiannan Cheng summed up: “I am honored and thrilled to be selected to participate in the Hart Institute at the Dallas Opera and I am looking forward to growing as a conductor through this world-class experience!”

While the Hart Institute began with a focus on supporting talented conductors, the challenges faced by women opera administrators are equally daunting.  To address this imbalance, The Dallas Opera last year added a new component to the Hart Institute: through 2022, TDO will invite between two and four American opera administrators to participate each season.  These women will be selected on the basis of their potential to become leaders of one of America’s top opera companies at some point in their careers.

The 2019 Hart Institute Administrators are:

  • Kristen Bigham (Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Beverly Love (Wilbanks Partners)
  • Suzanne Vinnik (artist & entrepreneur—founder of Shoperatic)

The selected opera administrators will have access to all group sessions and special sessions during the annual residency in Dallas.  This curriculum includes the role of the board, leadership development, personal branding, media and PR training, effective artist management, and navigating recruiting processes for senior level positions.  To continue to develop their musical skills, which is essential for any opera executive, the administrators will observe rehearsals with The Dallas Opera Orchestra and conducting master classes.  Special sessions on Development, Finance, and Marketing will be offered as well. 

One of the goals of the program is to construct a wide network of influential female leaders in the administrative offices of performing arts organizations, both large and small, as well as onstage and in the orchestra pit.

2019 Hart Institute Conductors



Taiwanese-American conductor Tiffany Chang is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Conducting and Conductor at Oberlin Conservatory and Assistant Professor at the Berklee College of Music.  She also served impactful terms as Interim Director of Orchestral Studies at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and Acting Director of Orchestral Activities at Boston University.  A 2017 Winner of The American Prize in Opera Conducting, Chang has been engaged by NEMPAC Opera Project, BlueWater Chamber Orchestra, OperaHub, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, ALEA III, Xanthos Ensemble, Brookline Symphony Orchestra, international music festivals such as IASAS and AMIS, among others.  She studied with David Hoose and Bridget-Michaele Reischl, receiving a DMA in orchestral conducting from Boston University and several degrees in cello performance, music education, composition, and music theory from Oberlin Conservatory.


Photo: Courtesy
Jiannan Cheng


Jiannan Cheng, a native Chinese conductor, served as an assistant in the 2018 Opernfestspiele Heidenheim in Germany where she conducted a performance of Verdi’s Nabucco with the Stuttgart Philharmonic. Recently, Cheng worked with the City Lyric Opera in New York City as the répétiteur and the assistant conductor in a production of La Tragédie de Carmen. Cheng was the 2018 Conducting Fellow of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and served as the Music Director in the CCM production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and the 2019 Interim Music Director of the CCM Concert Orchestra. Cheng was a candidate for the 2017 German Conductors’ Award, second prize winner of the 2016 4x4 Competition for Composers & Conductors and studied with Kurt Masur at the 2015 Aurora Music Festival in Sweden.



Tamara Dworetz is a 2019 Conducting Fellow for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Her upcoming commitments include serving as assistant conductor to Bramwell Tovey, Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra at the BBC Proms in London. Recently, Tamara was awarded 2nd prize in the Boston Pops' Bernstein-inspired conducting competition.  Previous positions include Assistant Conductor for the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Butler Opera Center. A dedicated music educator, Tamara was the conductor for the Austin Youth Orchestra, University of Texas University Orchestra and Lakeside High School Orchestra program in Atlanta, Georgia. Tamara attended Indiana University, the University of Texas at Austin, and she is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at Boston University. 



Marta Kluczyńska graduated with degrees in Symphony and Opera Conducting and Piano Studies from The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music Warsaw. At the age of 24 she made her opera debut at the Polish National Opera in Warsaw where she, as a resident conductor, has conducted numerous opera and ballet performances including A Midsummer Night's Dream by Benjamin Britten, The Haunted Manor by Stanisław Moniuszko, The Nutcracker by Peter Tchaikovsky, and Romeo and Juliet by Sergej Prokofiev. In 2017, Kluczyńska made her critically acclaimed debuts at the Wrocław Opera with La Cenerentola and at Landestheater Coburg (Germany) with Le nozze di Figaro. She has led concerts with orchestras such as Sinfonia Varsovia, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Katowice), Polish Radio Orchestra (Warsaw) and the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus.



Chi-Chen Madeline Tsai is a versatile musician who has been trained as a conductor, pianist, singer, organist, and timpanist. She was the only Asian female invited to the Solti International Conducting Competition in Hungary, where she won the People’s Choice Award. Following this award, she conducted the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra in Bulgaria and the Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan. She has also conducted the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra Berlin, the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lithuanian State Philharmonic Orchestra, and the National Radio Orchestra Bucharest. As a coach and accompanist, she assisted Grace Bumbry for her masterclasses on Aida and Cavalleria Rusticana in Vienna. Ms. Tsai is currently completing a doctorate in orchestral conducting at the University of Cincinnati.



Molly Turner is an emerging young conductor from Seattle, Washington. She recently completed her Bachelors in Music Composition at Rice University and will pursue a Masters in Orchestral Conducting at Juilliard in the fall.  Her primary conducting mentors include Larry Rachleff, Gerard Schwarz, and Jerry Hou.  At Juilliard, she will be working with David Robertson.  Recently, she has been featured with the Rice Campanile Orchestra, the Eastern Festival Orchestra, and the Shepherd Undergraduate Opera Scenes. She has also conducted The Philharmonia Orchestra (UK) and the Bay Area Youth Symphony (Houston). A strong advocate for new music, Ms. Turner regularly collaborates with Rice’s New Music Ensemble “Hear & Now” as a composer, violist, and conductor. She enjoys writing for the voice and conducts her own works.


2019 Hart Institute Administrators 



Kristen Bigham is the Gift Planning Associate at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Combining over five years of experience in the financial services industry with her background as a trained vocalist and director, she works to enhance and expand Lyric’s robust legacy giving program and community, The Overture Society. A native of Fort Worth, TX, she received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. Dedicated to promoting the presence, creativity, and leadership of women within the performing arts, Kristen is a passionate arts advocate and development professional, and has worked with numerous arts organizations throughout Chicago, including Rough House Theater, Piven Theatre, Links Hall, and Forte Chicago.



Beverly Love is currently a search consultant and Chief Operations & Administrative Officer with Wilbanks Partners, a boutique asset management executive search firm. She previously worked in the office of the Chief Economist and Asia Chairman of Morgan Stanley & Company and subsequently spent three years in Russell Reynolds Associates’ asset and wealth management practice. Prior to that, Beverly was the founding Director of the Greater Atlanta Christian School of Music. A jugendlich dramatischer soprano, she has performed throughout the US and in Italy and Austria. She earned a Masters in Voice/Opera Performance from Southern Methodist University, summa cum laude and Phi Kappa Lambda, and a Bachelors in Vocal Performance from Abilene Christian University, where she graduated with Honors, summa cum laude, and Valedictorian.



Suzanne Vinnik is an award-winning international opera singer, photographer and arts entrepreneur known for her innate musical phrasing, daring fashion sense and ability to provide innovative marketing solutions to artists, brands and arts organizations. The soprano saw a need for a specialized social media network and marketplace for women in classical music thus creating, Shoperatic. The community stands at over 11k female identifying women in opera (the largest in the industry) and is responsible for generating well over $450k in income for artists since 2017 with zero outside funding or paid advertisement. As a cultural affiliate, the soprano enjoys volunteering and co-producing events with Sing For Hope. Vinnik is an alumnus of the Opera Studio di Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy.


Photo: Courtesy
Molly Turner

2019 Hart Institute Observers



Rebecca Henry began the 2018-2019 season as Music Director for Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of Ruddigore. This summer, she will be serving on the voice faculty of the Performing Arts Institute at Wyoming Seminary. A proponent of new music, Rebecca was music director for the world premiere of Do Not Disturb (Forgotten Opera Company) and premiered works in New Works Fest with Opera on Tap. Additional conducting credits include The Mikado, La Perichole, HMS Pinafore, Ruddigore, and Robin Hood (Victorian Lyric Opera Company). Future engagements include an appointment as Associate Conductor for Bel Canto in Tuscany. When she is not conducting, she can be seen performing as a mezzo-soprano throughout the country and abroad. She received her Undergraduate degree from Rice University and her Masters from McGill University in Montreal.



Jane Kim is the recipient of the 2018 Charles Schiff Conducting Prize. She currently serves as Assistant Conductor with the Little Orchestra Society. She has appeared with the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, and, as cover conductor, she works with the New York Philharmonic, Canadian Opera Company, Juilliard Orchestra, and other ensembles. Previously, Jane served as Music Director of the Juilliard Pre-College String Ensemble and conductor of the Juilliard Lab Orchestra. Her summer activities include Aspen Music Festival, which she attended as a Conducting Fellow, and Pierre Monteux Music Festival, where she was named a Bernard Osher Scholar. Jane holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from The Juilliard School.



Vera Volchansky, described as conductor of “impeccable taste...whose artistic ability transforms a performance into a meaningful event,” has performed in the United States, Europe, Asia and Russia. Ms. Volchansky is the 2013 American Prize finalist in Conducting, and holds a master’s degree in Conducting from the Eastman School. She was chosen as Conducting Fellow with the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen. As a winner of the Fulbright Award, she studied music of the Russian Avant-Garde and the style of the St. Petersburg school of conducting. Her favorite performances include Stravinsky's Soldier’s Tale, Lucia di Lammermoor, and a sold-out concert celebrating the newly-installed Reuter Organ with Grammy-Winning organist Paul Jacobs. Vera was also recently featured on the Moving Forward Podcast with John Lim.



Rachel L. Waddell is an American conductor rapidly gaining acclaim for her innovative concert programming, and commitment to new music, education, and collaboration. In recognition of her concert programs, Waddell was recently named a finalist for the American Prize’s 2019 Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming. Waddell is entering her third season as the Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Rochester in New York. She previously served as the Associate Conductor of the Canton Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the award-winning Canton Youth Symphonies. While with Canton, Waddell conducted over eighty performances. Additionally, she has guest conducted around the country, including the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland’s Suburban Symphony Orchestra, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and the Flagstaff Light Opera Company.

Join Us for All is True
How to see the film All is True, with Kenneth Branagh as William Shakespeare, before it opens at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas. Free screening!

published Thursday, May 16, 2019


Dallas — On May 24, the film All is True, which imagines the final three years of William Shakespeare's life, opens at the Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano. But you can catch a free preview at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 20 at the Angelika in Dallas.

The screening is presented by the USA Film Festival, TheaterJones and Shakespeare Dallas.

The film is directed by and stars as Shakespeare Kenneth Branagh, with a screenply by Ben Elton. Judi Dench plays Willy Shakes' wife Anne Hathaway, Kathryn Wilder and Lydia Wilson are daughters Judith and Susannah, respectively, and Ian McKellen is Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton.

The film begins as the Globe Theatre burns during a production of Henry VIII ("All is True" is that play's subtitile). Shakespeare returns to Stratford-on-Avon where he spends his last three years making up for lost time with his family, and strugglling with the death of his son Hamnet, who died as a boy.

Look for an interview with Branagh coming on TheaterJones.


We have a limited number of tickets to the screening. To be put on the list, email and put ALL IS TRUE in the subject line. In the body of the email, please provide your full name, mailing address and phone number. Also tell us if you want one or two tickets. You'll receive a reply confirming receipt and your name will be on the list; and it's first-come, first-served at the screening on Monday.


Photo: Sony Pictures Classics
Judi Dench as Anne Hathaway and Kenneth Branagh as William Shakespeare



Joel Ferrell Steps Down
Dallas Theater Center's Associate Artistic Director will leave that position in August, and will continue to direct there while pursuing other directing work.

published Monday, May 13, 2019
Photo: Dana Driensky
Joel Ferrell

DallasJoel Ferrell is stepping down as Associate Artistic Director at the Dallas Theater Center, it was announced Monday.

Ferrell, who has directed many acclaimed productions at DTC, will leave the position at the end of the season in August. He will continue to direct there as an Associate Artist, including this year's A Christmas Carol, while pursuing other directing and choreographing endeavors around the country. His next local production is Sweeney Todd at Circle Theatre in June.


Below is the complete press release from Dallas Theater Center:

2017 Regional Theatre Tony Award Recipient Dallas Theater Center announced that Associate Artistic Director Joel Ferrell will be stepping down from his full-time position at the theater at the end of August 2019,  following the 2018-2019 season, to pursue new professional opportunities. Ferrell will continue to work with the theater on a contractual basis as an Associate Artist, and will return to the theater to direct A Christmas Carol this winter.  

"Since 2009 Joel has been an essential part of the fabric of Dallas Theater Center as a member of our artistic staff,” said Enloe/Rose Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty. “He has been a valued collaborator, whose work at Dallas Theater Center has included directing some of the most critically lauded productions in our history, including his definitive CabaretDividing the EstateFrankenstein and Rocky Horror Show, to name just a few. He’s also served as a producer, casting director, teaching artist and literary advisor, and he has tirelessly championed the work of local actors, designers and directors with passion. We will miss him as a member of our full time staff, but look forward to continuing to produce his work on our stage as an Associate Artist, including his work next season as director of A Christmas Carol.”

Ferrell’s Dallas Theater Center directing/choreography credits include: The Rocky Horror Show; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat; Cabaret; A Christmas Carol (2005-2009, 2011, 2012). Dallas Theater Center directing credits include: Steel Magnolias; Hairspray; Frankenstein; The Christians; Dreamgirls; Romeo and Juliet; Driving Miss Daisy; Clybourne Park; Red; God of Carnage; Dividing the Estate; reasons to be pretty; The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later; and Cotton Patch Gospel (starring its creator Tom Key). Dallas Theater Center choreography credits include: Fly by Night; It’s a Bird... It’s a Plane... It’s Superman; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Who’s Tommy; and My Fair Lady. DFW Credits: Gruesome Playground Injuries (Second Thought Theatre); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and The Baltimore Waltz(Stage West). Ferrell is a former Artistic Director of Casa Mañana Musicals Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. He has worked extensively around the country for Denver Center Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, Papermill Playhouse, Ford’s Theatre, Lyric Theater of Oklahoma and North Shore Music Theatre, among others.

“I am very proud to have been part of Dallas Theater Center's journey over the last decade,” said Ferrell. “Very few artists are fortunate enough to have an artistic home, and I'm grateful to Kevin, the board and staff for giving me a place to work, grow, and promote the wonderful theater artists who call DFW home. I look forward to many more collaborations with my Dallas Theater Center family, as well as new opportunities, projects and partnerships in DFW and around the country.”

Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :