From left, playwrights Blake Hackler, Julia Cho and Matt Lyle

2019 for Circle Theatre

For its 38th season, Fort Worth's Circle Theatre has two world premieres by local playwrights, a newer work by Julia Cho, and, surprisingly, two American classics.

published Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Photo: Taystan Photography
Matthew Gray


Fort Worth — Whereas some of North Texas’ long-running professional theaters that have lost a founding director in recent years, either because of death (Theatre Three and Stage West) or resignation (WaterTower Theatre), have shifted their theaters’ seasons with a focus on new(er) titles. Matthew Gray is going the other way, somewhat, with his first season to program at Fort Worth’s Circle Theatre.

Gray was announced as artistic director in January 2018, a year-and-a-half after the theater’s co-founder, Rose Pearson, died. For the most part, and especially in the past 15 years or so, Circle has been known as a place for regional playwrights to get third, fourth, or fifth productions of their plays. A typical Circle Theatre season did not have a title more than five or six years old.

What’s interesting about Gray’s first lineup—the 2019 season—is that there are two American classics on the list, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd. The latter is doubly interesting considering Circle’s small thrust stage, under the street level in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, seems an odd place for a big musical. But then again, Sweeney has been adapted for all kinds of spaces.

As for the surprising pick of Our Town, Gray says “I think it’s one of the best written American plays, and a crowd pleaser, so it’s a good bet as far as programming  goes. … It speaks to the time and the community in a way modern plays don't.”

Circle has done works by William Inge, Eugene O’Neill, and Edward Albee, as well as The Fantasticks, in the past 20 years, so American classics are not exactly new territory. Gray and his wife Emily ran Dallas' Classical Acting Company, focused on world and American classics, for four years in the early 2000s; such titles are in Gray’s wheelhouse.

Another show on the season is newish: Julia Cho’s provocative Office Hour, which deals with gun violence, premiered in Los Angeles in 2016. The other two titles are brand new, and from local playwrights Matt Lyle and Blake Hackler, the latter a co-production with Dallas’ Second Thought Theatre.

Lyle, who has another world premiere next season at Theatre Three, will see his A 3D Adventure produced at Circle. This was the play that was commissioned by the Dallas Theater Center, but when the commissioning time period ran out and DTC was not going to be able to fit it into a season, they offered it to Circle.

Hackler’s What We Were will be his third world premiere at Second Thought in as many years; after its production in Dallas, directed by Christie Vela, it moves to Circle.


Below is the complete lineup with dates, descriptions and subscription information.


Our Town

by Thornton Wilder

January 31 – March 9, 2019

Previews: January 31, February 1, February 2 (matinee)

Opening Night: February 2

Directed by Matthew Gray

Thornton Wilder’s iconic drama makes a rare, not-to-be-missed visit to our stage. This moving story of family, love, loss, and the importance of living in the moment is a true American classic.


Photo: Berkeley Rep
Julia Cho

Office Hour

April 18 – May 11, 2019

Previews: April 18, 19, 20 (matinee)

Opening Night: April 20

Regional Premiere

Adult language & subject matter  

by Julia Cho

A penetrating drama that could leap from today’s headlines comes to Circle.  A troubled student hides behind dark glasses and writes disturbing and provoking literature. Is he venting or really troubled? His professor is the only one willing to get close enough to understand. Will the day end in tragedy, hope…or somewhere in between?


Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim  | Book by Hugh Wheeler

June 6 – July 13, 2019

Previews: June 6,7,8 (matinee)

Opening Night: June 8

Adult language & subject matter

Directed by Joel Ferrell

Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is a heart-pounding thriller set on the seedy side streets of 19th century London. Filled with diabolical humor and extraordinary music, this eight-time Tony Award-winning musical tells the tale of an exiled barber’s quest to avenge the wrongs done to him and his family by a lecherous judge. 


A 3D Adventure

by Matt Lyle 

August 15 – September 14, 2019

Previews: August 16, 17, 18 (matinee)

Opening Night: August 18

World Premiere

Adult language & subject matter

Directed by Matthew Gray

Matt Lyle’s new play brings a witty energy to Circle’s season as a small theater troupe’s madcap production goes inexplicably, spectacularly off the rails. The actors find themselves cast into a strange, surreal world resembling some of your most beloved films. This epic whirlwind of theater and movie magic is a raucous adventure through time, space, and extremely quotable lines.


What We Were

By Blake Hackler 

Co-Production with Second Thought Theatre

September 26 – October 19, 2019

Previews: September 26, 27, 28 (matinee)

Opening Night: September 28

World Premiere

Adult language & subject matter

Directed by Christie Vela 

Three sisters in an East Texas town have a dark family secret. Weaving scenes from the past and present, Blake Hackler's What We Were is a story of escaping, coping, and caring, decades in the making. Can one ever truly go home again?



Since 1981, Circle has produced quality theatre by professional playwrights. In addition to supporting emerging playwrights, Circle has created an annual High School Playwriting Project. Area students will submit their 10-minute plays for a chance to receive prizes, scholarships, and a public reading on Circle’s stage.  The free reading will take place Sunday, May 5 at 3pm.

Individual ticket prices for the plays are $25-$38. Preview performance tickets are $15-$20. There will be a $5 upcharge per ticket for the musical, Sweeney Todd.

Circle Theatre's box office is open from Noon to 5pm, Tuesday through Friday, and one hour before show times. Call 817.877.3040 for further information and reservations, or visit to buy tickets online.

Circle offers complimentary valet parking with validation for all performances.

Season tickets are available for current subscribers right now. Season subscriptions will go on sale to the general public on August 16, 2018.

Each season ticket is valid for one admission to all five productions in 2019. Prices and availability are shown below. Thanks For Reading

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2019 for Circle Theatre
For its 38th season, Fort Worth's Circle Theatre has two world premieres by local playwrights, a newer work by Julia Cho, and, surprisingly, two American classics.
by Mark Lowry

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