Dallas — The 2015-16 season for the Dallas Theater Center has been announced, and features three world premieres, the area premiere of Robert Schenkkan's LBJ play All the Way, the Dallas premiere of Katori Hall's The Mountaintop (which had its area premiere at Jubilee Theatre in 2014), a revival of Dreamgirls and a return to Shakespeare with Romeo and Juliet. And A Christmas Carol, of course.
Here are a few things that stand out about the season.
1) World premieres. Three of them, beginning with the musical Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, which pays homage to the popular 1970s variety show Hee Haw and is written by Grammy-nominated country singer-songwriter Brandy Clark, along with songwriter Shane McAnally. The show was workshopped in New York last year and has aspirations for Broadway. Here's hoping it doesn't come off like an extended version of the recent Blake Shelton SNL skit—NYC is typically not kind to cornpone.
For me, the more exciting-sounding premieres are the two plays. First, the much-talked-about collaboration with Cara Mía Theatre Co., with the second installment of the Dreamers series, called Deferred Action. Written by Lee Trull and David Lozano, it takes place in 2016 in Dallas, so expect some commentary on local and state politics with this one. The show will be presented in workshop form by Cara Mía this year at the Latino Cultural Center. The first show in the Dreamers series, called A Bloodline, was produced in 2013 and was a recipient of the first round of TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund grants. Let's hear it for local playwrights at the area's largest theater!
The other world premiere is by terrific playwright Samuel D. Hunter, called Clarkston. Fort Worth's Circle Theatre introduced the area to Hunter a few years go with A Bright New Boise, and his play The Whale will be done in October by L.I.P. Service.
2) Classics. Kevin Moriarty began a bold-sounding classics initiative with the current season, and two plays in that series, Euripides' Medea and Moliere's The School for Wives, open soon. Great choices. Next season he'll return to Shakespeare with Romeo and Juliet, which is no big surprise considering that every season since the Wyly opened, except 14-15, has had a work by the Bard. R&J finds no shortage of productions in any year, but there are at least five productions of it at DFW theaters this year, including at one of the area's two professional Shakes companies, Shakespeare Dallas. I mean, Willy Shakes is obviously important, but let's give the other forebearers of drama a shot in future seasons—maybe a Restoration play, or something from a European absurdist or an American like Lillian Hellman or Eugene O'Neill? Ibsen? Strindberg? Chekhov? Shaw?
3) Collaborations. We've already talked about the co-production with Cara Mía Theatre Co. Additionally, All the Way, which won a Tony for Best Play and for Bryan Cranston in the role of LBJ, is a co-pro with Houston's Alley Theatre, where it be part of the first season in their newly renovated space in downtown Houston. It runs in Houston just before Dallas. Super cool. Note: HBO is producing a TV movie version of All the Way, which will also star Cranston.
4) The Wyly and Kalita. After this 14-15 season, in which five of DTC's nine shows are at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, next season will only see one DTC show there (Romeo and Juliet). That will be good news for Uptown Players, which has to juggle their season at the Kalita around to fit DTC's, but what will it mean for the innovative Elevator Project? This year, six small companies have been able to use the studio spaces in the Wyly, in part because of fewer DTC productions there (they still office, rehearse and teach at the Wyly). And next season, DTC has two shows in the Studio Theatre (The Mountaintop and Clarkston). Here's hoping the Elevator Project continues. Two shows can overlap in the studios and the Potter Rose spaces in the Wyly, as witnessed by the current DTC production of Stagger Lee and the Elevator Project production of Uncle Vanya from Dallas Actor's Lab.
5) Diversity. One thing I love about Moriarty and his team is that there has been a noticeable mission to be racially diverse, and next season is no exception. The Mountaintop, Dreamgirls and Deferred Action are great choices along those lines—and who knows what path director Joel Ferrell will take with Romeo and Juliet? Also, while we could use an increase in women writers, at least there are two next season: Katori Hall and Brandy Clark. And Brierley Resident Acting Company member Christie Vela will make her DTC directorial debut with A Christmas Carol. (The directors for Mountaintop and Clarkston have not been named yet.)
Here's the full press release and schedule from the Dallas Theater Center.
DALLAS (February 5, 2015) – Dallas Theater Center Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty announced today the theater’s 2015-2016 season, which includes productions in the Potter Rose Performance Hall and the Studio Theatre at the Wyly Theatre in the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Kalita Humphreys Theater on Turtle Creek. DTC’s 2015-2016 season will include three world premieres, new productions of Dreamgirls and Romeo and Juliet, the regional premiere of All the Way in collaboration with the Alley Theatre in Houston, and The Mountaintop. The world premieres include a new musical comedy, Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical; a new play, Clarkston, by MacArthur Foundation Fellow Samuel D. Hunter; and Deferred Action, the culmination of a collaborative project between Dallas Theater Center and Cara Mia Theatre Co.
“Our 2015-2016 season is packed with three world premieres, two large scale musicals, a Texas-sized collaboration with Houston’s Alley Theatre, a Shakespearean classic, and two intimate dramas in our Studio Theatre,” says Moriarty. “Each play will spark a lively dialogue in our community, ranging from the personal to the political, from stories about love and family to explorations of immigration and social justice, from hilarious comedies to thought-provoking dramas. The season will highlight the artistry of our Brierley Resident Acting Company, while bringing to Dallas some of the most exciting, nationally recognized theater artists working today, including leading country music artists, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, who will create their first musical theater score. The season also includes acclaimed writers Samuel D. Hunter, Robert Horn, David Lozano and Lee Trull, award winning director Gary Griffin, and the collaboration of the acting companies from the Alley and DTC.”
DTC’s seven-play subscription series includes a toe-tapping good time with the world premiere of Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, a new musical comedy lovingly (and loosely) inspired by the iconic TV show; the glitter and glamour of 1960s R&B group stardom in a fresh new production of the classic Dreamgirls; one of the greatest love stories ever told and the third production in DTC’s ongoing classical theater initiative, Romeo and Juliet; the Tony Award®-winning political drama All The Way; a world premiere new play by MacArthur Genius playwright Samuel D. Hunter, Clarkston; the world premiere of Deferred Action by David Lozano and Lee Trull, the culmination of a collaborative project with Cara Mia Theatre Co.; and an intimate production of the recent Broadway drama about famed civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., The Mountaintop, by Katori Hall. DTC will also produce the beloved holiday classic A Christmas Carol.
The full season will be presented as follows: in the Potter Rose Performance Hall at the Wyly Theatre Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical (Sept. 2 – Oct. 11); in the Studio Theatre at the Wyly Theatre The Mountaintop (Sept. 16 – Nov. 15); in the Potter Rose Performance Hall A Christmas Carol (Nov. 25 – Dec. 26); in the Studio Theatre Clarkston (Dec. 3 – Jan. 31); at the Kalita Humphreys Theater Romeo and Juliet (Jan. 27 – Feb. 28); in the Potter Rose Performance Hall All The Way (March 3 – 27); in the Potter Rose Performance Hall Deferred Action (April 20 – May 15); and in the Potter Rose Performance Hall Dreamgirls (June 10 – July 24).
Dallas audiences will be the first to see the world premiere musical comedy Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, featuring a score by multi-Award winning artists Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally (two of country music’s hottest new singer/songwriters), a book by Robert Horn, direction by Gary Griffin and choreography by Denis Jones. Hilarious and downright irreverent, Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical distills the spirit of an iconic television series and bottles it into an original musical comedy! Set in present day Kornfield Kounty, this highly anticipated show introduces a new generation of irresistible characters as it tells the story of Misty Mae, the ultimate hometown girl who heads out to follow her dreams in the big city… of Tampa. When she returns home to introduce her slick city-boy beau to her friends and family, everything goes haywire!
"Shane and I both grew up watching ‘Hee Haw,’ so it’s thrilling that we get to make our musical theatre writing debut using source material that really shaped and defined so much in terms of the history of country music. We’re loving the collaborative process of writing for the theater, too,” Clark said.
Co-composer McAnally said, “I’m from the Dallas area, so getting to debut the show in my hometown is especially exciting for me, and I can’t wait for audiences to see it!”
Clarkston is a new play by MacArthur Foundation Fellow Samuel D. Hunter that loosely explores the modern day legacy of Lewis and Clark. The three-person play is an intimate exploration of the friendship formed between two young men in rural Washington as they face what comes next in their lives.
Deferred Action by Dallas playwrights David Lozano and Lee Trull centers on young, undocumented Latino immigrants called Dreamers as they search for a place in the country to which they were brought to live at a young age. This world premiere production is the culmination of a collaborative project between Dallas Theater Center and Cara Mia Theatre Co. and brings the two organizations’ resident acting companies together for the first time.
The Tony Award®-winning Dreamgirls, with book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger, will fill the Wyly with the legendary sounds of R&B all summer long. Directed by DTC Associate Artistic Director Joel Ferrell in a fresh new production, Dreamgirls follows girl group The Dreams on their path to superstardom complete with number one hits, band break ups and all the drama that makes the music so good.
Just moments after the death of President John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson boarded Air Force Two, took off from Dallas and was sworn in as President of the United States before he landed in Washington, D.C. All the Way is a Tony Award-winning and gripping political drama by Robert Schenkkan about the man from Texas who found himself unexpectedly in the highest office of the land at the height of the civil rights movement. Under the direction of Kevin Moriarty, the regional premiere will join the resident acting companies of Houston’s Alley Theatre and DTC, the state’s two largest, most lauded regional theater companies. DTC’s production of All the Way will also include a community partnership with The Sixth Floor Museum, an institution dedicated to exploring the events surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy.
“We are tremendously excited to collaborate with Dallas Theater Center, and especially on this big, brilliant, wonderful new American play,” said Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd. “All The Way is an exciting and hugely entertaining piece of theatre about a transformative moment in American life and politics. And that moment resonates as resoundingly now as it ever has. The play catches the spark in the history and brings it thrillingly to theatrical life.”
Two families at odds, wicked brawls in the street and two young lovers so hopelessly committed to each other that they make the ultimate sacrifice. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a story known by most, but directed by Joel Ferrell at the historic Kalita Humphrey’s Theater, DTC’s production will be one that stays fresh on the minds of all North Texans.
Martin Luther King, Jr. - for a person so heavily in the public eye, few knew the man he was deep inside. In The Mountaintop, Olivier Award®-winning playwright Katori Hall dramatizes an intimate look at one of the most influential people in American history the night before his untimely death by an assassin’s bullet. It reflects on morality and society’s strengths and frailties, and questions the value of the things we leave behind. DTC will work with Dallas Faces Race for the second season in a row to engage North Texans in a civic dialogue about issues pertinent in their communities today.
The Holiday Extra (and favorite) A Christmas Carol returns to the Wyly Theatre. An actor brand new to the role will play everybody’s favorite humbug, Ebenezer Scrooge, in this critically acclaimed adaptation by Kevin Moriarty, interpreted with a few new surprises by director Christie Vela. After two years of record-breaking box office success, A Christmas Carol returns to tell a magical story filled with holiday cheer, magical ghosts and lots of snow!
Full season subscriptions go on sale February 9, 2015 and will be available for as little as $126. Subscriptions can be purchased online at DallasTheaterCenter.org or by calling the AT&T Performing Arts Center Box Office at (214) 880-0202. Single tickets to A Christmas Carol will be available later in the season, after a subscriber-only early access pre-sale.
For those who want to take their theater-going experience to the next level, DTC’s program, Friends@DTC, offers patrons a variety of exclusive benefits, including premium seats, a VIP intermission lounge, special invitations, complimentary drinks, free parking and much more. Visit DallasTheaterCenter.org/Friends or email Friends@DallasTheaterCenter.org for more information.
DTC will continue the Come Early, sponsored by Wells Fargo, and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Stay Late programs in 2015-2016. Come Early is a free 30-minute informative talk designed to enhance a patron’s play-going experience. Given one hour before every performance, a member of the cast or artistic staff will share details about the play’s origins and context, as well as share insight into the creative process behind the production. Stay Late is a free, brief, post-show conversation with a member of the cast about the show. Patrons will engage with the artists, learn about the production and be able to share their insights about the play in a lively discussion.
Dallas Theater Center gratefully acknowledges the support of our season sponsors: Texas Instruments; American Airlines; Chase; City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs; and Lexus.
2015-2016 Season Lineup
Production information subject to change
MOONSHINE: THAT HEE HAW MUSICAL
Sept. 2 – Oct. 11, 2015
Music and Lyrics by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally
Book by Robert Horn
Directed by Gary Griffin
Hilarious and downright irreverent, MOONSHINE: That Hee Haw Musical distills the spirit of an iconic television series and bottles it into an original musical comedy! Set in present-day Kornfield Kounty, this highly anticipated show introduces a new generation of irresistible characters as it tells the story of Misty Mae, the ultimate hometown girl who heads out to follow her dreams in the big city… of Tampa. When she returns home to introduce her slick city-boy beau to her friends and family, everything goes haywire! Featuring an original score by 2014 CMA winners and Grammy® nominees Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally (two of country music’s hottest singer/songwriters), a book by Robert Horn, direction by Gary Griffin, choreography by Denis Jones and orchestrations by Tony® and Grammy® Award winner Stephen Oremus, MOONSHINE: That Hee Haw Musical gets the Broadway treatment when it has its eagerly awaited World Premiere this fall at DTC.
Sept. 16 – Nov. 15, 2015
by Katori Hall
Wyly Theatre • Studio Theatre
What thoughts and emotions were pulsing through Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mind and heart on his last night on Earth? Set in Memphis’ Lorraine motel just hours before the civil rights leader was assassinated, The Mountaintop presents King as a very human man, stripped of the mountains of mythology now woven into his remembrance. This recent Broadway hit and the 2010 winner of Britain’s Olivier Award for Best New Play will bring every audience member within feet of the actors in an intensely intimate Studio Theatre production. Crackling with metaphysical magical realism, The Mountaintop throws lightning bolts of insight upon our societal strengths and frailties and our own personal accomplishments and failings as, with Dr. King, we ponder the cost of what we contribute and the legacy of what we leave behind.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Nov. 25 – Dec. 26, 2015
By CHARLES DICKENS
Adapted by KEVIN MORIARTY
Directed by CHRISTIE VELA
The must-see family tradition that marks the beginning of Dallas’ holiday season, A Christmas Carol is a critically acclaimed, delightfully reimagined take on Dickens’ enduring classic. The Dallas Morning News proclaimed this transcendent, all-ages musical treat “socially conscious... and theatrically spectacular.” Join us as Scrooge returns to the Wyly Theatre, where the audience will be surrounded by magical ghosts flying above, scary ghosts bursting out of the floor and snow falling on everyone, bringing this timeless story to vivid new life. With two years of record breaking box offices, only subscribers are guaranteed access to this beloved holiday classic!
Dec. 3, 2015 – Jan. 31, 2016
by Samuel D. Hunter
Wyly Theatre • Studio Theatre
Meet Jake, a descendant of the explorer William Clark, who has recently been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease; and Chris, who is searching for a way to use his degree in Post-Colonial Gender Studies to make a discernible contribution to society. Against the backdrop of an increasingly corporatized and dehumanized American West, these two young men attempt to join together to forge ahead into an uncertain future. Leavened with humor and compassion, Clarkston juxtaposes day-to-day existence with historical allusions and larger themes of faith and doubt. Written by 2014 MacArthur Foundation Fellow Samuel D. Hunter, one of the most provocative new voices in American theater, Clarkston continues DTC’s commitment to bringing the nation’s most exciting writers to Dallas.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Jan. 27 – Feb. 28, 2016
by William Shakespeare
Kalita Humphreys Theater
Directed by Joel Ferrell
From Joel Ferrell, the director behind DTC’s 2014 blockbuster hit The Rocky Horror Show, Romeo and Juliet bursts breathlessly to life as the Bard’s immortal tale of impetuous young lovers and the senseless hatred that poisons their hope asks the question: can any generation escape the sins of the fathers? This sleek, sexy new production immerses you in the emotional chaos of two innocent teens fighting desperately to choose their own destiny.
ALL THE WAY
March 3 – March 27, 2016
by Robert Schenkkan
Directed by Kevin Moriarty
A co-production with Alley Theatre Winner of the 2014 Tony Award®, this suspenseful Texas-sized new play aboutone of the most powerful Texans, takes us from the earliest moments of Lyndon B. Johnson’s accidental presidency to his hard-won landslide election one year later. The resident acting companies of Dallas Theater Center and Houston’s Tony Award®-winning Alley Theatre join together to create this monumental play, which will be performed in both cities. Robert Schenkkan’s masterful script paints a gripping portrayal of LBJ, civil rights hero, ruthless bully, and perhaps one of our greatest legislative presidents. With a title harkening back to the slogan for his 1964 campaign, All the Way is a searing and enthralling dramatization that explores political gridlock, strong-arm manipulation, and the morality of politics and power. Contains adult language.
April 20 – May 15, 2016
by David Lozano and Lee Trull
Directed by David Lozano
A co-production with Cara Mía Theatre Co. The world premiere of DTC’s collaboration with Cara Mía Theatre Co., Deferred Action focuses on Javier Mejía, one of the immigrants known as Dreamers who arrived in the USA as an undocumented minor. Now, after years in the States, he finds himself caught in the tangle of existing immigration laws, new presidential policies and the harsh reality of living in the shadows. Javier hopes that temporary administrative mechanisms like Deferred Action will be the answer to his dilemma. But will hope be snatched away? Can politicians who say they are the Dreamers’ friends be trusted? Deferred Action follows the lives, loopholes, and dangers of those who dare to dream.
June 10 – July 24, 2016
Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyer
Music by Henry Krieger
Directed by Joel Ferrell
Tonys, Oscars, Grammys … this modern-day classic sparkles with almost as many awards and accolades as its costumes have sequins. Take a trip back to the seminal music scene of the 1960s, when young women sang their way to musical prominence in a man’s world. Set in the Motown era that brought us powerhouse voices like Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross—and ultimately Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé—Dreamgirls explodes from the stage with legendary songs and timeless appeal.