If Kevin Moriarty has slowly been preparing Dallas Theater Center audiences for the kind of work that turns him on—with a new work here and a fresh writer there—then next season is when he lets loose, big-time. The Dallas Theater Center's just-announced 2012-'13 season is filled with premieres, either world or local, and the playwriting names involved are some of the most buzzed about in the American theater scene right now.
They include Kristoffer Diaz, John Logan, Rajiv Joseph and Kim Rosenstock, who's currently being introduced to Dallas with her play Tigers Be Still, running through May 13 (she's also a lead writer on the hit FOX sitcom New Girl). There'll also be a new work, commissioned by DTC, from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who wrote the new book for DTC's revised version of the musical It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman! a few seasons ago.
In fact, Logan's entry—the play Red about artist Mark Rothko, which won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2010—is the oldest work on the season (it debuted in London in 2009). Well, besides the usual Shakespeare and Dickens, of course.
We already knew that DTC's Shakespeare entry would be King Lear because it's a co-production with the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island (a group that has deep ties with DTC and Moriarty), and their season had already been announced. Moriarty directs and it runs in Providence this fall, and then comes to Dallas in early 2013. Company members from both organizations will perform in both locations. Trinity Rep actor Brian McElene stars in the title role.
And in case anyone thought they had Moriarty all figured out, the opening show of the season is a new work that no one would have predicted: A collaboration with the acclaimed Chicago improv troupe The Second City. The show, called The Second City Does Dallas, will involve four of the Dallas Theater's Center's Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company members spending time in Chicago developing the work, after members of the Second City spend time in Dallas getting to know our city and politics. (Here's a tip, guys: Dallas County is one of the few hints of blue in a very red state, although we're still pretty purple.)
That show is followed by the 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety by Diaz, a play that deals with race, class and power and is set in the world of professional wrestling. The director here is Jaime Castañeda, a Texas Christian University graduate who has directed at Fort Worth's Circle Theatre and Amphibian Stage Productions, and briefly had his own company, FireStarter Productions, which once produced an evening of short plays that included a work from Diaz (he also won a DFW Theater Critics Award for his direction of Jose Rivera's Sonnets for an Old Century). Castañeda directed Diaz's Welcome to Arroyo's, and he was also recently named an artistic associate at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York. (Side note: When Moriarty first came to Dallas and began meeting with local theater critics, and I was still on staff at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Moriarty asked me about Castañeda, whom he had heard about; the young director was already making waves as an assistant director for the Broadway revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, and other shows.)
Then we get A Christmas Carol, and 2013 kicks off with King Lear. That's followed by Red, which is a collaboration with the Dallas Museum of Art, which has Rothko works in its collection. Moriarty says there will be talk-backs involving DMA staff about Rothko, and there's even consideration of trips to Cowtown, where the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has a Rothko, and even to Houston, home of the Rothko Chapel.
The final three shows of the 2012-'13 season are new, new, new.
Aguirre-Sacasa's entry is the DTC-commissioned The Dracula Cycle, in which Bram Stoker's vampire classic gets a three-act retelling. Aguirre-Sacasa is an avowed comic book and horror/fantasy geek, and was one of the book writers involved with the Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. He also writes for TV's Glee.
Then come the "fly" musicals.
The rock musical Fly By Night, with a book by Kim Rosentock and music by Will Connolly and Michael Mitnick, culminates on the night of the famous New York blackout in 1965.
Then we have one simply called Fly, based on J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, with a book by Rajiv Joseph and music by Bill Sherman. It will be directed by Tony-winner Jeffrey Seller (the producer of Rent, Avenue Q and In the Heights, among others) and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who won the Tony for his choreography of In the Heights and is currently stunning audiences with his work in the touring musical Bring It On. Joseph wrote Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which was on Broadway in 2011 and was a Pulitzer finalist. The only local group that has produced his work so far has been Amphibian Stage Productions in Fort Worth.
What, DTC couldn't add the recent Broadway play Stick Fly to the roster and flesh out the "fly" theme?
By the way, Joseph, Diaz and Rosenstock are all on the list of playwrights that DTC has commissioned for future new works, some of which has already been reported. Also in that group is Will Power, whose new hip-hop piece Stagger Lee has had an early workshop, and will be developed further in the coming season. Power will have more time here now that he's been added to the SMU faculty beginning this fall. And add a new name to the list of playwrights DTC is commissioning: Aaron Loeb (Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party). Moriarty confirmed this in a recent interview.
Of course, all this new means there must also be some outgoing traditions. The major one is that 2012 will be the last year that A Christmas Carol will be in the Kalita Humphreys Theater, and the last year for the production they've been using, adapted by Richard Hellesen and directed by Joel Ferrell.
Also, King Lear will be the final of Moriarty's four-year Shakespeare cycle, having done a comedy (Midsummer), history (Henry IV), romance (The Tempest) and now a tragedy. Moriarty says in 2013-'14, they'll start a new classics cycle, although he's not ready to announce what that will be.
There will also be some changes in the resident acting company line-up, which has always been the plan, to keep company members coming and going so it doesn't get stale. Cedric Neal, who is currently on Broadway in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and has relocated to New York, is cycling out. As will Abbey Siegworth, who signed on with a two-year contract that will expire at the end of this season, as she graduates from Southern Methodist University.
To sum up: The 2012-'13 season will be a landmark one for DTC. How big? Even the New York Times weighed in before DTC officially announced the season.
Here's the official DTC news release, followed by a list of the season line-up, with descriptions, and the video that DTC made for the announcement:
The 2012-13 season, which will take place at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the historic Kalita Humphreys Theater. DTC's 54th season will include three world premieres; two new musicals; the culmination of DTC's four-year Shakespeare cycle; and several nationally acclaimed plays making their North Texas debut.
"With great plays and musicals, sensational performers and headline-worthy collaborators, the 2012-13 season truly has something to offer everyone," says Moriarty. "From Dracula to Peter Pan, from Mark Rothko to King Lear, the season is filled with unforgettable characters in plays and productions that are new, fresh and exciting. Our unique Wyly and Kalita Humphreys stages will be transformed into a wrestling ring, an artist's studio, a magical island filled with awe-inspiring flying, and a castle in Transylvania in which good and evil face off in a thrilling battle."
"The 2012-13 season showcases DTC's commitment to producing vibrant new work by some of the most exciting playwrights currently working in the American theater," says Moriarty. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (DTC's It's a Bird… It's a Plane… It's Superman) returns to Dallas with the world premiere of The DRACULA Cycle, a fresh take on Bram Stoker's vampire classic. Kim Rosenstock (Tigers Be Still) brings her new musical, Fly By Night, to DTC, written with Michael Mitnick and Will Connolly. Award-winning playwright Rajiv Joseph and composer Bill Sherman create a contemporary new musical version of the Peter Pan story, Fly. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will introduce Dallas audiences to the work of acclaimed playwright Kristoffer Diaz, who has also been commissioned by DTC to write two new plays for future seasons.
"We are also continuing our emphasis on collaboration," says Moriarty. New initiatives include a partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art centered around Red, the Tony Award-winning play about legendary artist Mark Rothko, and collaborations with The Second City in Chicago and Trinity Repertory Company in Providence. "This season, members of DTC's Brierley Resident Acting Company will collaborate with their nationally recognized peer actors from across the country, allowing Dallas audiences to experience the artistry of new actors on our stage and introducing some of Dallas' finest actors to new collaborators."
Additionally, as part of its audience outreach initiatives, DTC is expanding one of its most popular programs, Stay Late, which invites audience members to stay after the play and discuss the production with members of the cast. "This season we will launch a complementary new program, Come Early, that will invite audiences to learn about the play before it begins," says Moriarty.
Also new this season, DTC is offering supporters an affordable membership program, for those interested in receiving access to unique, behind-the-scenes opportunities and special benefits.
The season will be presented as follows: In the Potter Rose Performance Hall at the Wyly Theatre – The Second City Does Dallas (Aug. 29 – Oct. 6); The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Oct. 19 – Nov. 25); and King Lear (Jan. 18 – Feb. 17). In the Kalita Humphreys Theater – Red (Feb. 8 – March 10). In the Potter Rose Performance Hall at the Wyly Theatre – The Dracula Cycle (March 15 – April 18). In the Kalita Humphreys Theater – Fly By Night (April 26 – May 26). In the Potter Rose Performance Hall at the Wyly Theatre – Fly (July 2 – Aug. 18). DTC will also produce Dallas' favorite holiday tradition – A Christmas Carol (Nov. 20 – Dec. 23) - its final year at the Kalita Humphreys Theater before moving to the Wyly in 2013.
In the 2012-13 season, DTC will collaborate with legendary improv comedy troupe The Second City for The Second City Does Dallas - a comedy revue about Dallas that will touch on everything from politics to class to big Texas hair. Two members of our own Brierley Resident Acting Company will team up with four Second City members to create an evening of comedy and cocktails with the Dallas skyline as the backdrop.
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will put patrons ring-side, as the spectacle (and politics) of the wrestling world unfolds before them. Chad Deity was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and will introduce North Texans to the voice of playwright Kristoffer Diaz, from whom DTC has also commissioned two new plays. Texas native and Texas Christian University graduate Jaime Castañeda will return to North Texas to direct this one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.
Completing DTC's four-year Shakespeare cycle is King Lear, directed by Kevin Moriarty. In a major collaboration with the Tony Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI, members of the two theaters' acting companies will come together to create a bold new production of Shakespeare's greatest tragedy.
Red, which won six honors at the 2010 Tony Awards, will invite patrons into the studio and the mind of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. DTC Associate Artist Joel Ferrell will direct this startling snapshot of a brilliant artist at the height of his fame. DTC and the Dallas Museum of Art will invite audiences to learn more about Rothko's life, work and the historical context of the play through a series of auxiliary experiences at the DMA, the Kalita and online.
The work of playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (DTC's It's a Bird… It's a Plane… It's Superman; HBO's Big Love and FOX TV's Glee) will return to the Wyly stage with The DRACULA Cycle. Based on the novel by Bram Stoker and directed by Kevin Moriarty, The DRACULA Cycle will take audience members on a chilling journey from Transylvania to London as they witness what happens when the forces of good make their final stand against the forces of evil.
Conceived by Kim Rosenstock, the playwright of Tigers Be Still, and written by Rosenstock, Will Connolly and Michael Mitnick, Fly by Night is a charming and comic rock musical that takes place during New York's 1965 blackout. This acclaimed new show that the San Francisco Chronicle calls "breathtakingly good" will be directed by Bill Fennelly.
Making his directorial debut is three-time Tony Award-winner (Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights) Jeffrey Seller with the hip, new musical Fly. Written by Rajiv Joseph, the acclaimed playwright of the hit Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, and Bill Sherman, the orchestrator of In the Heights, this musical is filled with breathtaking flying, action, longing and remorse, and offers a unique spin on the classic Peter Pan tale.
Full season subscriptions are on sale now for as little as $105; or design your own theater-going experience for as little as $45. Subscriptions can be purchased online at www.DallasTheaterCenter.org or by phone at 214-252-3927.
For those who want to take their experience to the next level, DTC's new program, Friends@DTC, offers patrons a variety of exclusive benefits, including premium seats, a VIP intermission lounge, backstage access, complimentary drinks, free parking and much more. Visit DallasTheaterCenter.org/Friends or email Friends@DallasTheaterCenter.org for more information.
Here's the season breakdown:
THE SECOND CITY DOES DALLAS
Aug. 29 – Oct. 6
Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
Dallas gets barbecued, Chicago style.
Hilarity hits town with a bang when the Windy City's great comic performers and members of our own Brierley Resident Acting Company take on all that's great (and not so great) in Big D. How will our fair city fare beneath the satirical scrutiny of The Second City? With the Wyly's glass walls open wide, downtown Dallas becomes the literal backdrop for this outrageously funny show.
DTC acknowledges the support of Assistant Producing Partner Jackson Walker L.L.P.
THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DIETY
Oct. 19 – Nov. 25
By Kristoffer Diaz
Directed by Jaime Castañeda
Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
Behind every winner there's a great loser.
This no-holds-barred satirical smack down slams together big character with thrilling spectacle–and transforms the Wyly into a wrestling arena. You'll have a ringside seat for an invigoratingly over-the-top championship tale that masks a sly allegory about race, class and power.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Nov. 25 – Dec. 24
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Richard Hellesen
Music by David de Berry
Directed and Choreographed by Joel Ferrell
Kalita Humphreys Theater
Scrooge up your holidays.
From tiny tots to young-at-heart seniors, for a lot of North Texans it just wouldn't be the holidays without DTC's festive production of the Dickens classic. It's a lot like Christmas itself. Magical, moving and colorful, filled with laughter and song (including favorite carols and newer originals).
Jan. 18 – Feb. 17
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Kevin Moriarty
A co-production with Trinity Repertory Company
Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
"The wheel is come full circle." – William Shakespeare, King Lear, 5.3.176
A father rejects his daughter. A king neglects his people. The cosmos revolts. With this sweeping tragedy of a leader and his children, of love tested, relationships broken, and a kingdom divided, Dallas Theater Center culminates its four-year Shakespeare cycle–a much heralded demonstration of how relevant the Bard's great works are for our generation.
DTC acknowledges the support of Associate Producing Partner Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
Feb. 8 – March 10
by John Logan
Directed by Joel Ferrell
A collaboration with the Dallas Museum of Art
Kalita Humphreys Theater
How would you handle a brush with genius?
New York, 1958. Mark Rothko–uncompromising, volatile, brilliant–undertakes a new commission. His newly hired assistant challenges the master's theories. This production turns the intimate Kalita Humphreys Theater into Rothko's studio for a thrilling bio-drama as vivid as any primary color.
THE DRACULA CYCLE
March 15 – April 28
By Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Kevin Moriarty
Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
A night to remember–if you live through it.
From the writer whose credits include Big Love, Glee and DTC's 2010 revival of It's a Bird… It's a Plane… It's Superman comes an epic new retelling of Bram Stoker's vampire masterpiece in three terrifying acts. Act 1 – A young Englishman arrives in Transylvania to do business with a mysterious count, unaware that he is intended to become a gift for Dracula's three brides. Act 2 – The captain of a London-bound schooner finds his ship besieged by an unspeakable creature, Nosferatu. Act 3 – With Dracula settled into English society, the forces of good make their last stand against the forces of evil… and not everyone will survive the night.
FLY BY NIGHT
April 26 – May 26
Conceived by Kim Rosenstock
Music by Will Connolly and Michael Mitnick
Directed by Bill Fennelly
Kalita Humphreys Theater
Sometimes it takes a blackout to see the light.
A star-crossed prophecy. Two charming sisters and a luckless sandwich maker. A lot of music. Just not a lot of light. Conceived by Kim Rosenstock (Tigers Be Still) and written by her with songwriters Will Connolly and Michael Mitnick, this darkly comic and rock-musical romance follows a trio of young New Yorkers as they pine for love, and grope for flashlights, in the epic blackout of 1965.
July 2 – Aug. 18
Based on J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan
By Rajiv Joseph
Score by Bill Sherman
Music Supervision by Alex Lacamoire
Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler
Directed by Jeffrey Seller
Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
Forget the walls, forget the floor, forget the Pans you've seen before.
Forget the ground, forget the sky, 'cause the more you forget the higher you will FLY! Fly, a new musical where Peter Pan flies Wendy and John on an action-packed journey to Neverland that is both fun and scary, exciting and sad. With a new sound and score by Bill Sherman and Rajiv Joseph, Fly shines a whole new light on J.M. Barrie's classic novel... It's not just for kids anymore.