The 2017 revival of <em>Once On This Island</em>

2019 for Firehouse Theatre

Next season, The Firehouse Theatre has seven musicals, including Side Show, Bright Star, and Once on This Island, plus The Glass Menagerie.

published Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Photo: Joan Marcus
The Tony-winning 2017 revival of Once On This Island


Farmer's Branch — In a theater scene in which big musicals have been diminishing from the professional theaters not called Uptown Players—Dallas Theater Center hasn’t had any new musicals in a few seasons, Lyric Stage only has one weekend for its productions, and Theatre Three and WaterTower Theatre have focused more on lesser-known or smaller musicals (this year’s exception being the hit Once at T3), and Brick Road scaled back on its 2018 season—audiences looking for big productions of musicals have been a major reason for the growth of the Firehouse Theatre in Farmer’s Branch. (The aforementioned Uptown Players has become the place for professional, splashy, and well-executed productions of musicals.)

I don’t know if any DFW theater has had as much growth—in terms of audience/subscribers and budget size—than the Firehouse Theatre in Farmer’s Branch. What started as a community theater in 2012 with a small budget has now grown into a large community theater that occasionally uses Actor’s Equity contracts, always has live music (not tracks), has a budget that in 2019 will be over $750,000, and in 2018 grew its subscriber base by about 50 percent from the previous year (it was more than 300 subscribers in 2018). Its first official gala in October, held at the Brookhaven Country Club, was evidence that the folks in charge here—Executive Director David Moore and Artistic Director Derek Whitener—are doing something right. The elegant, circus-themed event was packed with fans, subscribers and community leaders , and provided terrific entertainment from folks like Janelle Lutz and Sara Shelby-Martin.

The 2019 season, announced that night, looks to be the kind of mix of works that Whitener wants to program: Classics, both under-done (Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend) and overdone (a concert version of The Wizard of Oz); works whose rights have been newly made available (the area premiere of Bright Star and the musical we’re all going to be sick of pretty quickly, Mamma Mia!); and a few modern gems that deserve to be revived more often: Once on This Island and Side Show. Oh, and Cats, plus three shows for young audiences.

There’s also a play, this time one of the greats of American theater, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

Season tickets, which go on sale 10 a.m. Nov. 19, are priced at $170-$200 (with discounts for students and senior citizens)—not a bad price for an eight-show season. To buy season tickets, visit

The full season, with dates and descriptions, is below: 



The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams

January 17-27

Directed by Scott Tatum

In a production that explores segregated St, Louis, Missouri and the vibrant lives of former Southerners navigating a new reality, The Firehouse portrays one of the most famous “memory plays” of the modern theatre, this drama of great tenderness, charm and beauty premiered in 1944 and catapulted author Tennessee Williams from obscurity to fame. The play has strong autobiographical elements, featuring characters based on its author, his mother, and his mentally fragile sister, Laura. All the actions of the play are taken from the memory of Tom, the narrator. Tom works in a shoe warehouse to support his family since his father left the family without any apparent reason. He hates his job and seeks to run away from the responsibility through alcohol, cigarettes, and going to movies. At his mother’s urging, Tom brings his friend Jim, to dinner as a potential suitor for his shy sister, Laura. She shows him her glass menagerie collection containing her favorite unicorn, but while dancing with her, Jim happens to knock over the unicorn and breaks off the horn, making it a normal horse. After Jim confesses that he has a fiancée, a seriously hurt Laura offers him the broken unicorn as a souvenir. Years later, though he is too far from the house, he cannot escape from the memories of Laura. A tale of broken of dreams and altered realities.


The Boy Friend

Book, Music & Lyrics by Sandy Wilson

February 14-March 3

Directed by Derek Whitener

Music Directed by Bethany Lorentzen

Choreography by Mark Tam Quach & Mindy Neuendorff

With the past success of The Drowsy Chaperone, and Thoroughly Modern Millie, This romantic spoof of 1920s musical comedies, set against the backdrop of the French Riviera, tells the story of Polly, an English heiress who is longing for only one thing: a boyfriend. Her father, convinced that any boy who isn't wealthy will court her strictly for her money, forbids her to engage any potential suitors. Honoring his wishes, Polly explains to Tony (the messenger boy with whom she's fallen in love) that she is no rich girl. This is just the tip of the mistaken identity iceberg, as love proceeds to find its way charmingly through nearly every member of the cast to bring them all to a happy ending. Filled to the brim with tongue-in-cheek moments that both parents and grandparents will love!


Once on This Island

Book by Lynn Arenas

Music by Stephen Flaherty

March 28-April 14

Directed by Marilyn Setu

Assisted directed by Mark Tam Quach

Music Directed by Cherish Robinson

Choreography by Christian Houston

Winner of the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, this highly original Caribbean adaptation of the popular fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, celebrates storytelling with a rousing Calypso-flavored tale of one small girl who finds love in a world of prejudice. Featuring a score from the Tony Award-winning songwriting team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Seussical, Ragtime). Ti Moune, a peasant girl, rescues Daniel, a wealthy boy from the other side of the island and falls in love. Unbeknownst to her, the pompous gods who preside over the island make a bet with one another over which is stronger, love or death, with the stakes set high - Ti Moune's life. When she pursues Daniel, who has returned to his people, she is shunned because of her lowly status. Although her determination and capacity to love is not enough to win Daniel's heart and she pays the ultimate price, the gods turn Ti Moune into a tree that grows so strong and tall that it breaks the wall that separates the societies, ultimately uniting them.


Photo: Nick Stokes
Bright Star on Broadway

Bright Star

Music, Book & Story by Steve Martin

Music, Lyrics & Story by Edie Brickell

May 23-June 9

Directed by Tyler Jeffrey Adams

Music Direction by Mark Mullino

Choreography by Kelly McCain

Inspired by a real event and featuring the Grammy-nominated score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Broadway’s Bright Star tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past – and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives. Propelled by an ensemble of onstage musicians and dancers, the story unfolds as a rich tapestry of deep emotion, beautiful melodies and powerfully moving performances. An uplifting theatrical journey that holds you tight in its grasp, Bright Star is as refreshingly genuine as it is daringly hopeful.


Mamma Mia!

Music and Lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson

Book by Catherine Johnson

July 17-Aug. 11

Directed by Bruce R. Coleman

Music Direction by Pam McClain

Choreography by Kelly McCain

ABBA's hits tell the hilarious story of a young woman's search for her birth father. This sunny and funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. The story-telling magic of ABBA's timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship, creating an unforgettable show. A mother, a daughter, three possible dads, a trip down the aisle and ABBA’s music all result in a magical show promising fun for all.



Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

September 5-22

Directed by Derek Whitener

Choreography by Christina Kudlicki Hoth

Music Direction by Mark Mullino

The Firehouse production team will create an entirely new vision of, “One of the world’s best-known and meow-velous musicals! Set amongst a larger-than-life junkyard playground, Cats is alive with purr-fect felines including Rum Tum Tugger, Mr. Mistoffelees, Macavity, Jennyanydots, Old Deuteronomy, Skimbleshanks and Grizabella. The Jellicle Cats come out to play on one special night of the year—the night of the Jellicle Ball. One by one they tell their stories for the amusement of Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, who must choose one of the Cats to ascend to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and additional material written by Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe, based on Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, the all-singing, all-dancing Tony-winning musical spectacular has been translated into 16 languages and presented in theatres, tents, an engine shed, and school gymnasiums across the world.”


Side Show

Book, Music & Lyrics B. Russell & H. Krieger 

October 24-Nov. 10

Directed by Linda Leonard

Music Directed by Isaac Leaverton 

Based on the true story of Conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton who became stars during the Depression, Side Show is a moving portrait of two women joined at the hip whose extraordinary bondage brings them fame but denies them love. Told almost entirely in song, the show follows their progression from England to America, around the vaudeville circuit and to Hollywood on the eve of their appearance in the 1932 movie Freaks. Nominated for the 2015 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Revival of a Musical, the show features songs including "Very Well Connected", "All in the Mind", and "The Great Wedding Show", and delves deep into the twins’ backstory, including their relationship with Harry Houdini and a proposed separation surgery - complex situations involving honesty, sophistication and truth.


The Wizard of Oz: The Holiday Family Concert

By L. Frank Baum

With Music and Lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg

Background Music by Herbert Stothart

Dance and Vocal Arrangements by Peter Howard

Orchestration by Larry Wilcox

Adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company

Based upon the Classic Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and distributed in all media by Warner Bros.

December 5-22

Directed and Choreographed by Kyle West

Music Direction by Mark Mullino

Join us during the holiday season for a magical concert of the story we all know and love featuring Dorothy, Toto, Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Miss Gulch, and Professor Marvel around the Kansas farm. With dreams of escaping her mundane life “Over the Rainbow”, the cyclone hits and Dorothy and Toto are transported to the Land of Oz. In Oz we meet Glinda, the Munchkins, the Wicked Witch of the West, and three new friends, The Scarecrow, The Tinman, and the Lion. Along the way towards the Emerald City, our friends encounter a haunted forest, jitterbugs, and flying monkeys. In the end, we are reminded “There’s No Place Like Home,” especially during the holidays. Thanks For Reading

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2019 for Firehouse Theatre
Next season, The Firehouse Theatre has seven musicals, including Side Show, Bright Star, and Once on This Island, plus The Glass Menagerie.
by Mark Lowry

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