Dark Circles Contemporary Dance will do Joshua L. Peugh\'s new take on <em>The Rite of Spring</em>

Bring It, 2016

New dance and theater works, classic plays, interesting music choices and lots of laughs: Here are the performances and events our writers and columnists are looking forward to in 2016.

published Sunday, January 10, 2016

Photo: Katherine Owens
Long Day's Journey Into Night at Undermain Theatre


We've done our looking back at 2015, and now it's time to peek ahead into 2016. Here are the shows, events and other happenings that our TheaterJones critics, writers and columnists are looking forward to in this year. A few of these are wishlists, including some thoughts from a guest writer: playwright Jonathan Norton.


M. Lance Lusk 

Contributing Theater Writer

What I am most looking forward to: More from Shakespeare in the Bar, which was founded in 2014 by Katherine Bourne, Alia Tavakolian, and Dylan Key. They have taken on the comedies Twelfth Night, Love's Labour's Lost, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the history, Richard III, with much success. There are few details out there, other than the folks behind SITB has indicated that there will be a spring production. Here’s hoping they consider fan favorites such as Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, or something offbeat like Troilus and Cressida (please, please, please).


Photo: Courtesy
Royce Vavrek and David T. Little, composer and lyricist of JFK, having its world premiere at Fort Worth Opera

Cheryl Callon

Contributing Dance Writer

A brilliant double bill on March 4 with two impressive companies at the best Dallas venue for dance: Dallas City Performance Hall. Dark Circles Contemporary Dance will debut Joshua L. Peugh’s Rite of Spring, and Avant Chamber Ballet presents Katie Cooper’s new take on Raymonda. I'm purposely avoiding videos and articles on Peugh's new endeavor because I want to be completely surprised. Live music, innovative choreography, and exhilarating dancing are sure to happen, and it only comes for one night. Get. Your. Tickets. On second thought, maybe they should extend it to two performances...


J. Robin Coffelt

Contributing Music Writer

2016 promises to be another great year on the Dallas-Fort Worth classical music scene. Of all the exciting developments, the one I’m currently looking forward to most eagerly is the second iteration of the Dallas Symphony’s SOLUNA festival. The nerd in me wants to experience the “Music and the Brain” neuroscience seminar, while my inner metalhead can’t wait to hear the Lay Family Concert Organ at the Meyerson ring out in Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3. Also in the spring, the Fort Worth Opera Festival promises another groundbreaking season. Although David T. Little’s JFK has received the most buzz, I’m eager to see Buried Alive/Embedded, two one-act operas that are based on contemporary conceptions of Edgar Allan Poe stories. One of the best parts of 2016, though, will surely be all the unexpected, small moments of perfection or passion that remind me why classical music is so vital. It’s the surprises I look forward to most, and not knowing where I’ll find them is part of the joy.


Rob Laney

Contributing Music Writer

In 2016 there will be a few surprises for local singing stages. Schola Cantorum will honor Black History Month in February. A new opera about JFK's last day comes to Bass Hall in April, courtesy of Fort Worth Opera. The most interesting question continues to be the outcome of contract negotiations with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra the musicians' union. An ultimate prediction of future quality.

Photo: Jason Hensel
Comedian Saffy Herndon


Jason Philyaw

Contributing Comedy Writer

Dallas’ Saffy Herndon seems primed for even greater renown in 2016. She’s hilarious, and she’s 10, as in 10-years-old. Her jokes should only get sharper and wittier as she matures. She’s done shows all over Texas, festivals all over the nation, been profiled by InTouch Weekly, killed it on Today and met Seth Rogen and David Spade. Pretty soon they’ll be saying they met her. ... The opening of a third Hyena’s in Plano and the Dallas Comedy House’s move to a larger space in Deep Ellum reflect the growing demand for comedy shows in North Texas. Also DCH and Improv Dallas, in the Design District, offer a roster of improv and sketch-writing classes that routinely fill quickly. ... DCH hosts its seventh annual Dallas Comedy Festival in March with dozens of improv troupes from across the country and two nights of stand-up from Paul Varghese, Aaron Aryanpur, Linda Stogner, the aforementioned precocious preteen and the funniest folks in Dallas, which is a deep and growing list.


Amy Martin

Chief Comedy Critic

Amphibian Stage Productions in Fort Worth announced a planned comedy series in 2016 that includes man of voices Kyle Kinane (Feb. 23), the wonderfully weird Ryan Singer (May 20-21), Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre mainstay Emily Maya Mills (June 2-3), geek goddess Jackie Kashian (June 10-11). Baron Vaughan, who started the stand-up idea at Amphibian, return in September for a residency. While the comedy series at Amphibian Stage Productions is notable, the most striking one unfurls at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Oklahoma north of Gainesville: Jerry Seinfeld, February 6; Tracy Morgan , March 26; and Nick Offerman, April 9.  Most eclectic on the horizon: Sklar Brothers pull through all the Hyena’s Comedy Night Clubs in North Texas (March 10-12). . . David CrossMaking America Great Again! on April 23 at the Majestic Theatre. . . Jane Lynch in See Jane Sing at the House of Blues on June 11. Most maternal: The Pump and Dump: A Parentally Incorrect Comedy Show and Night Out, For Once featuring Shayna Ferm and Tracey Tee on Feb. 17 at the Kessler Theater.


Shelby-Allison Hibbs

Director, playwright, producer and theater faculty at University of Texas at Dallas

Teacher/Artist columnist

As a professor, I ask my students to go see local shows and write a response to it. I always look forward to these essays with ticket stubs and programs attached, because they document the wide range of performances happening all the time in our Metroplex. A common thread through many of the papers is genuine amazement at the level of artistic work happening just a few miles from their homes. For 2016, I’m looking forward to see how my students continue to walk through your theater doors and thoroughly reflect on their experience engaging with performance.

Photo: Amitava Sarkar
Choreographer Jamal Story
Photo: Courtesy
Playwright Steve Yockey

Katie Dravenstott

Contributing Dance Writer

I am most looking forward to seeing Jamal Story's expanded version of his aerial duet at Dallas Black Dance Theatre's Cultural Awareness series in February.


Jess Hutchinson

Producer-in-Residence at Kitchen Dog Theater

In the Room Where It Happens columnist

I’m looking forward to the 2016 Kitchen Dog Theater New Works Festival. We opened play submissions on the NNPN New Play Exchange for the first time this year and have been bowled over by the results: over 630 plays from writers around the world. In May and June, our Festival will feature readings of the top six of these plays, along with productions of two Steve Yockey rolling world premieres. In a time of transition, you’d understand a company reducing their programming, or sticking with systems they know. I’m proud that KDT is choosing to continue their trademark boldness this year with this necessary festival, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.


Keith Cerny

Dallas Opera General Director and CEO

Off the Cuff columnist

My wish for 2016 is that the extraordinary facilities and non-profit organizations in the Dallas Arts District come to be fully recognized nationally and internationally for what they are today: namely, a unique and tightly concentrated collection of some of the world's finest performance and exhibit spaces, teamed with innovative arts organizations, one of the nation's best high schools for the performing and visual arts, and a splendid urban park. These are all a vital part of what makes Dallas a great, and continuously rising, city.


Danielle Georgiou

Founder, Danielle Georgiou Dance Group

Sixth Position columnist

I can’t wait to see what TITAS has up their sleeve when they present Mr. and Mme. Rêve, March 18-19 at the Dallas City Performance Hall. Modern dance, virtual realities, and themes from Eugene Ionesco—be still my avant-garde loving heart! I’m also excited to see what Hip Pocket Theatre creates next. I follow them on Instagram and am slightly obsessed with their whimsical sets and puppets. Then there’s the Dallas DanceFest; what will year hold hold? Or will 2016 be the year we get an experimental dance festival in Dallas? That would be a dream come true—or to see the return of the Barefoot Brigade’s modern/contemporary dance festival at the Bath House Cultural Center. Personally, I’m excited to remount Pizzicato Porno, a multi-media movement duet between myself and Justin Locklear, for the 17th International Festival, hosted by Teatro Dallas at the Dallas Children’s Theater.


Photo: Pascal Elliott
Mr. & Mrs. Reve come to Dallas courtesy of TITAS


Jonathan Norton

Playwright of the 2015 acclaimed work Mississippi Goddamn

My hope for the DFW theater community in the new year is that we begin to focus even more attention on strengthening our local community of playwrights. To get better as a playwright requires a combo of five things: mentorship, experience, critical scrutiny, opportunity and resources. It is much easier for actors to find their way to such opportunity—working with a variety of theaters of different sizes and working with gifted actors who inspire and challenge you. Young designers can serve as assistants on big projects (and learn) and form relationships with new upstart theaters. Young directors can assist or even start their own companies and attack exciting works. But local playwrights sometimes struggle to find such multi-leveled support and trials by fire. I think that I've been fortunate so far in that I've been able to find great support—specifically through my work at South Dallas Cultural Center and TeCo Theatrical Productions, Will Power has been a great mentor, and my commission with Dallas Theater Center. But the DFW theater community still needs more opportunities for playwrights to grow. And a big shout-out to Kitchen Dog’s new Producer-in-Residence, Jess Hutchinson. She is already doing great things!

Photo: Karlo X Ramos
Brothers' Harvest at the Ochre House


Martha Heimberg

Contributing Theater Writer

Indigo Sue, a woman just made for a dark musical comedy set on the Llano Estacado, is the hard-luck heroine of Brothers’ Harvest, Matthew Posey’s 25th (at least) world premiere launching the new year just a month into it at Ochre House Theatre on Jan. 30. Home of Posey’s Balanced Almond Productions and a crew of crazy-original actors, designers and musicians, the deli-mustard-colored façade of this 50-seat theater is a magnet for theater fans looking for something—who knows what—at the edge of Deep Ellum, a block from Fair Park. Posey and company have made this boxcar space wedged between two bars a magical mystery tour, a rabbit hole, a looking glass for the adventurous. Whether you step, fall or stumble into Ochre House, there’s always something to fascinate—a hilarious obscene puppet, a dazed astronomer, a fiery flamingo dancer, a cult murderer or a stageful of voluptuous gals and weirdly alluring men performing within reaching distance of the front row. (Handling actors is verboten.) So.  I’m starting 2016 with a restless cowgirl who’s got a yen for a bevy of brothers come to harvest the cotton, the wheat, the oil or any other riches they can carry away from the thick 298-million-year-old rock of the Permian Basin.  Tickets are $17 and include a dozen sweaty performers, original music and Shiner Bock. Beat that.


Cathy O’Neal

Contributing Theater Writer

What I'm looking forward to the most in 2016 isn't a show or a tour making a Dallas stop. It's watching the growth of a new local podcast about Metroplex theater called Little Big Scene. It's the creation of three artists who are performers, directors and writers, Jeremy Dumont, Kelsey Leigh Ervi and Kathryn Taylor Rose. In their debut episodes, they've tackled the issues of funding and the future of our theater community and included veterans of the theater scene along with younger members for their perspectives. We've had podcasts and radio programs that tell us what's on the calendar, but we haven't had anything that talks about the issues, and the past and the future of our theater community. There is so much that makes up the DFW theater scene and an abundance of talented people. I look forward to having it explored and discussed by these talented and passionate young theater professionals.


Photo: Double Treble
The pianists of Double Treble will come to the Black Academy of Arts & Letters

Janice L. Franklin

Contributing Theater Writer

Theatrically, I am intrigued by Deferred Action by David Lozano and Lee Trull at the Dallas Theater Center, and I am interested in seeing Second Thought Theatre’s production of The Great God Pan by Amy Herzog. Musically, I am salivating over the possibility of hearing Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax.  Perlman captured my heart long ago. Having studied the Rach 3 Piano Concerto, I anxiously want to be in the audience and play along, thumping my thighs with my fingers. The Black Academy of Arts and Letters’ evening with The Double Treble pianists should be entertaining. And there is the Seventh Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition in June.


Katy Lemieux

Features Writer

Eugene O’Neill plays don’t often pop up in Dallas, so Undermain Theatre’s February production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night is something to look forward to for sure. As much as one can look forward to O’Neill’s heartbreaking opus about a dysfunctional family torn apart by mental illness, drug abuse, and alcoholism, that is. Add in some broken dreams and father-son disappointment and it should be the perfect mid-winter night out. What’s particularly exciting is that Undermain Artistic Director Katherine Owens will be directing. So much of O’Neill’s story revolves around matriarch Mary Tyrone and her descent into a hazy, drug-induced oblivion while her sons and husband look on. To have a woman direct this male-heavy play is a smart one, and Owens is more than capable of the task. After a stellar 2015 with world and regional premieres of new plays, it will be fun to watch this talented crew tackle what is one of the finest American plays.


David Novinski

Contributing Theater Writer

May the audience find you risking it all after a luxurious banquet of budget, talent and time. Or at least, make it look that way.


Mark Lowry

TheaterJones Editor and Chief Theater Critic

There are definitely performances I'm extra-excited about, such as Eric Bogosian at the Wyly Theatre, The Nether at Stage West, Deferred Action at the Dallas Theater Center, The Toxic Avenger at Uptown Players and the third Dallas Solo Fest. But to expand on some of the themes from 2015, which I wrote about here, I'd love to see more risk-taking from the big-budget organizations with taking chances on new titles and work that might not be a box-office slam-dunk. Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, Fort Worth Opera and TITAS have been doing their part; would love to see groups with annual budgets of more than, let's say 2 million, follow suit. You know who you are. I'm also looking for risk and innovation from black and Latino theater-makers in 2016; that's a growing demographic from both the audience and the artist side—and there's always room for more stories. I hope to see more experimentation with physical space and nontraditional narratives. Hate to use the out-of-the-box cliché, so let's just forget about the box, OK?



 2015: Year in Review 

  • Monday, Dec. 28 Margaret Putnam's Year in Dance
  • Monday, Dec. 28 Cheryl Callon's thoughts on the year in dance
  • Monday, Dec. 28 Katie Dravenstott's thoughts on the year in dance
  • Monday, Dec. 28 Columnist Danielle Georgiou's Year
  • Tuesday, Dec. 29 Gregory Sullivan Isaacs' Year in Classical Music and Opera
  • Tuesday, Dec. 29 J. Robin Coffelt's thoughts on the year in classical music
  • Tuesday, Dec. 29 M. Lance Lusk's Year in Shakespeare
  • Wednesday, Dec. 30 Jan Farrington's thoughts on the year in theater
  • Wednesday, Dec. 30 Martha Heimberg's thoughts on the year in theater
  • Wednesday, Dec. 30 David Novinski's thoughts on the year in theater
  • Thursday, Dec. 31 Amy Martin's thoughts on the year in comedy
  • Friday, Jan. 1 Mark Lowry's Year in Theater
  • Sunday, Jan. 10 TheaterJones writers look forward to 2016
  • Monday, Jan. 11 The top performing arts news of the year
 Thanks For Reading

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Bring It, 2016
New dance and theater works, classic plays, interesting music choices and lots of laughs: Here are the performances and events our writers and columnists are looking forward to in 2016.
by TJ Staff

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