The fall arts season has begun, and while there are a tremendous amount of theater productions that have us beyond excited—such as Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches at Uptown Players, Anne Washburn's 10 Out of 12 at Undermain Theatre and Jennifer Haley's Breadcrumbs at WingSpan Theatre Company, to name a few—we couldn't help but focus on the brand new work. Yes, there's enough of it to warrant a list.
This is a positive trend we've seen for several years now; it's not just small theaters offering new plays from in-house writers, but world premieres from mid-size and large professional groups. That's the kind of work that will put DFW on the national theater map.
This fall, there are new titles at Dallas Theater Center, Amphibian Stage Productions, Theatre Three and Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, in addition to theaters at which we regularly expect brand new work, like Kitchen Dog Theater, the Ochre House, PrismCo and The Drama Club. There are even a few new musicals at local colleges.
So with that in mind, and a nod to Places!, our weekly suggestion of performing arts events in North Texas, we present the top 12 world premieres happening in Dallas, Fort Worth and beyond between now and the end of the year.
THE BIG 12
1 Bella: An American Tall Tale
Dallas Theater Center + Playwrights Horizons | AT&T Performing Arts Center, Wyly Theatre, Dallas
Dallas Theater Center and New York's Playwrights Horizons co-present the world premiere of Kirsten Childs' musical Bella: An American Tall Tale, about an African-American woman traveling via train through the American West in the 19th century, looking for her Buffalo Soldier beau, and discovering that some assets are worth having. It's directed by Robert O'Hara, whose play Bootycandy was just done at Stage West in Fort Worth. The musical stars Ashley D. Kelley as Bella, plus Josh Davis, Yurel Echezarreta, Denise Lee, Will Mann, Liz Mikel, Kenita R. Miller, Paolo Montalban, Clifton Oliver, Gabrielle Reyes, Zak Reynolds and Donald Webber Jr. Choreography is by Camille Brown, music direction by Rona Siddiqui. | Opened Sept. 30 and runs through Oct. 22
» Read Shelby-Allison Hibbs' interview with Kirsten Childs
» Read Mark Lowry's Q&A with Robert O'Hara about Bootycandy and Bella
2 The Incident + Wild, Wicked, Wyrd: Fairytale Time
The Drama Club | Bryant Hall on the Kalita Humphreys Theater campus, Dallas
The prospect that the Drama Club, a group that did a few enticing festival shows involving mask and puppets in the 2000s, has plans for a least one major production a year, is exciting beyond words. Last year it made its return with an imaginative and acclaimed new look at the Faust legend. This time, it has two very different-looking new plays, running in rep.
The first is The Incident, a one-man play written and performed by one of Dallas' favorite actors, Terry Vandivort, who looks back at surviving through decades as a gay man in Dallas. Cameron Cobb directs this "true story of secrecy and terror, stemming from an unidentified man and the explosion of violence he brought. The chilling memories have haunted Terry year-after-year, decade-after-decade. A mystery. An unsettling, yet cathartic journey for the storyteller and the audience. A raw, unflinching, darkly-poetic one-man detective story."
Then we have Wild, Wicked, Wyrd: Fairytale Time, a collection of short works inspired by fairytales and folklore from around the world. The works are by Maryam Obaidullah Baig, Michael Federico, and John Flores, and are directed by Jeffrey Schmidt and Christie Vela. Flores melds Mayan mythology, trickster tales of the Koasati Tribe, and a White River Sioux legend for his plays Lighter Than Air and Just Desserts; Michael Federico pulls from the Brothers Grimm, Irish lullabies, and old American music for Mother Holly; and Maryam Obaidullah Baig draws inspiration from the 18th-Century story Masnavi Sihr Ul Bayan by Mir Hasan and her own tale of The Whataburger Tree for Jo Chaho Tum. The ensemble includes Delaney Grant Milbourn, Marti Etheridge, Aubrey Ferguson, Nicole Berastequi, and Kia Nicole Boyer star. The entire evening also features live music and sound provided by Dallas band JimJohn Make Noise, which is Jim Kuenzer and John Flores. | The Incident opens Oct. 10; Wild... opens Oct. 15. They run in repertory through Oct. 29
» More info in our listing for The Incident
» More info in our listing for Wild, Wicked, Wyrd: Fairytale Time
3 A Stain Upon the Silence: Beckett's Bequest
Kitchen Dog Theater | Trinity River Arts Center, Dallas
This show barely fits into the category of brand new work because it's a collection of short plays by and inspired by Samuel Beckett. But there is one world premiere, Lisa, My Friend by Abe Koogler, which was commissioned by KDT for this project. The other works are: Beckett's A Piece of Monologue and Rockaby; Tongues by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin; and the regional premieres of Pickling by Suzan-Lori Parks and Behold the Coach, in a Blazer, Uninsured by Will Eno. The theater's name comes from Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and KDT has performed a number of works by the influential Irish writer over 25 years, including Godot, Happy Days and collections with shorter plays. Directed by Tim Johnson, the ensemble features KDT Artistic Company Members Rhonda Boutté and Max Hartman alongside John S. Davies and Janielle Kastner. Note that this is the first show at Kitchen Dog Theater's new temporary home at the Trinity River Arts Center, which is likely to be KDT's home base for at least a couple of seasons as the group secures and renovates a new space, for which it has a capital campaign already going. | Oct. 7-29
4 Smart Pretty Funny
Amphibian Stage Productions, Fort Worth
Amphibian's mainstage season closes with the premiere of a new work by Artistic Director Kathleen Culebro, whose works have been seen at her theater before, as well as in New York. The play deals with a woman who learns that she might be better off without a soul mate. "It's a provocative and captivating comedy about love, loneliness, motherhood, and the idea that life never turns out the way you planned. Lisa Devine directs the cast of Gretchen Corbett, Van Quattro, Vanessa DeSilvio, Ivan Jasso and Anastasia Muñoz. | Oct. 20-Nov. 13
5 Day Light
Theatre Three, Dallas
Bruce R. Coleman was pretty ballsy to put his own new play in the first season that he selected at Theatre Three, where he is the acting artistic director after Jac Alder's death. But we've enjoyed several of his plays, such as his recent delight Boomer Tryo is Coming Home at Uptown Players' Pride Performing Arts Festival. This gambit could pay off. Set in Junction Pass, Texas, in 1867, it deals with a family coming apart during a blizzard. In a news release, Coleman writes: “I have always been interested in what makes us happy as individuals inside a familial construct. Day Light explores each characters journey toward happiness and the unexpected places happiness might come from.” The play won first place in Stage West's Southwest Playwriting Competition last year, and had a staged reading directed by Kitchen Dog's Tina Parker. This premiere performance is directed by Coleman and the cast includes Cindee Mayfield, Blake Blair, Abigail Palmgren, Connie Coit, Matthew Holmes, Max Swarner, Sterling Gafford, Greg Jackson and Sky Williams. | Previews Nov. 17-19, opens Nov. 20 and runs through Dec. 11
6 As We Lie Still
Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
All right. Technically this is not the world premiere, but its creators, Patrick Emile and Olivia de Guzman Emile, are North Texans who developed the show here and then, when it was accepted into the 2014 New York Musical Theatre Festival, performed the show off-Broadway. That's kind of workshoppy. Now the show, directed again by Michael Serrecchia, comes home in the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas season. It's described as a musical that "mediates reality and illusion, conscious and unconscious, life and death." It's set in the early 1920s as a magician named Ari is on a quest for one great illusion. | Nov. 28-Dec. 20
PrismCo | Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Dallas
PrismCo is the movement theater company founded by Katy Tye and Jeffrey Colangelo, and so far, their track record of storytelling without words is pretty stellar. Most of the works have been based on myths, such as Persephone and Galatea, and this one follows in that tradition. King Midas was the dude who turned anything to gold when he touched it. That doesn't work out so well. Written by Katy Tye. | Previews Oct. 7; runs Oct. 8-23
8 Dreaming Electric
The Ochre House, Dallas
The Ochre House does nothing but new work, much of it written by Matthew Posey, but occasionally by Kevin Grammer or Justin Locklear. This play is by Grammer and stars Locklear as Nikola Tesla, the revolutionary engineer, physicist and dreamer whose discoveries in electrical current in the early 20th century are the basis for much of what we now understand about electricity. He's a popular subject for theatermakers—Austin's Rude Mechs have done two original works about Tesla, and there's an opera and other plays about him. Also, a rock band and expensive cars. Can't wait to see what the Ochre House cooks up. As with everything there, expect original live music and lots of theatrical magic. | Oct. 29-Nov. 19
9 Holy Bone
Dead White Zombies | Multiple Spaces, Dallas
The details of the newest immersive weirdness from Thomas Riccio and Dead White Zombies are to be announced, especially since the warehouse spaces in Trinity Groves that DWZ has used since its inception can't be chanced because of the first marshal shutdowns. The work deals with the ritual nature of American Pentecostalism—Riccio's specialty is ritual performance around the world, mostly with indigenous peoples. So, speaking in tongues, dancing in the spirit, etc. He calls it an "evolution for DWZ ... We will be presenting performance artifacts in a variety of locations towards the middle-end of November and continue adding and updating them for a while. The city is our performance immersion space. And yes, we will present a performance ritual, the Holy Bone, which will illuminate all of the performance artifacts as an expansive cosmology." | November, dates and venue(s) to be announced.
10 Citizen Drumpf
Ohlook Performing Arts, Grapevine
Matthew Lord, known as one of the Three Redneck Tenors, and his cohort Kelley Poché Rodriguez wrote this musical about the current presidential election cycle and it was performed as a workshop in August. Since then, they've reworked it and cut it back. All of the players are there, including Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Vladmir Putin and the candidates' spouses. But of course the focus is on TrumpMan, and much of the material comes verbatim from his mouth. So you know it will cause YUGE laughs. In case any Trump voters plan on seeing it, don't worry, Hillary (played in drag) doesn't come out looking all rosy, either. We're guessing new material has been added, considering he is constantly dishing, or Tweeting, it out. | Late nights at 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 7-Nov. 5
11 Troupers: A Musical Vaudeville
University of Texas at Arlington Department of Theatre Arts | UTA Fine Arts Building, Mainstage Theatre, Arlington
UTA Theatre opens its season with his new musical comedy that uses existing songs with arrangements by George Chave and Jeff Lankov, and with a libretto by Anne Healy. The story: "Troupers: A Musical Vaudeville shares the story of vaudeville and its people—a play with music where the vaudevillians and the society in which they lived come alive for a few, brief moments. The stories, events, and acts you will see really happened!" Healy researched the libretto and score at such places as the American Vaudeville Museum holdings at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in New York City, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the archives of the Society for the Preservation of Variety Arts housed at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. | Oct. 12-16
Richland Theatre | Richland College Theatre, Dallas
Richland College presents an original musical based on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, with music by Christopher Watlington and book and lyrics by Andy Long. Music direction is by Adam C. Wright. Long says: "The story of Dorian Gray is only half of Wilde’s brilliant novel. The other half of the book is filled with wonderful commentaries by Wilde himself. He discusses in great detail his views on topics such as art, time, class, sex, temptation, love, and the power of words. It is these commentaries I wished to explore. I decided to update the story to the present and create an ensemble piece for eight performers. They act as one, stepping from the ensemble to become the characters of the story. They offer a modern commentary through song on the original topics Wilde himself presented." | Previews Oct. 10-11, runs Oct. 17-22
» For complete listings of what's happening on North Texas stages, click on the calendar icon at the top right of the page. Once there, you can click the red "Search the Calendar" box, and search for listings by dates, performance type, the presenting company, titles or descriptions.