Farmer's Branch — In this decade there hasn’t been a bigger growth story among North Texas theaters than the Firehouse Theatre in Farmer’s Branch. What began in 2012 with a love for musicals and a small budget has grown to a year-round theater with an $800,000 budget and enough support to, for the second year in a row, throw a swanky gala. Executive director David A. Moore says in 2020, that budget will grow.
At Friday night’s gala at Vouv, an event center in Farmer’s Branch, the love — and the money — was evident. The theme was 1920s — appropriate for an event celebrating the new 2020 season — and revelers came in their beaded flapper gowns and gangster suits. Tables were themed by famous 1920s people, including Clara Bow, Duke Ellington, and Buster Keaton. Auction items were snapped up for five grand.
There was a film about Firehouse’s connection to education and the community, and most notably, the 2020 season was announced, with actors performing selections from the shows. (In case anyone was worried about the Singin’ in the Rain mash-up of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and the musical’s title song, don’t worry, the actual production will be the traditional show.)
The season opens with a revival of a musical the Firehouse did five years ago, with that original cast: The Drowsy Chaperone. The other musicals are, notably, mostly from the 21st century: Rock of Ages, Elf, the area premiere of Amélie, and one of my personal favorites, the underrated Urinetown. The classics are Singin’ in the Rain and The Wiz, and the one play is the physical theater-heavy version of the novel and film The 39 Steps.
Also in the season are the children’s productions of Annie, Jr., Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, Jr., and a new to-be-announced title.
Other big news from the gala: Firehouse is working toward becoming an Actor's Equity Association (AEA) Small Professional Theatre (SPT). Interestingly, another large-budget community theater, Theatre Arlington, has just started a three-year transition to becoming an SPT. Provided SPT statuses stay the same, this would make Theatre Arlington and Firehouse the 13th and 14th DFW theaters to have an AEA classification of SPT or higher, after Amphibian Stage Productions, Casa Mañana, Circle Theatre, Dallas Children's Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Lyric Stage, Second Thought Theatre, Stage West, Theatre Three, Undermain Theatre, Uptown Players, and WaterTower Theatre; in 2018 we lost an SPT when Trinity Shakespeare Festival closed.)
Here’s the season line-up:
The Drowsy Chaperone
Music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison | Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar
January 30 - February 23, 2020
Directed by Derek Whitener
One of Firehouse’s biggest hits is back! With the houselights down, a man in a chair appears on stage and puts on his favorite record: the cast recording of a fictitious 1928 musical. The recording comes to life and THE DROWSY CHAPERONE begins as the man in the chair looks on. Mix in two lovers on the eve of their wedding, a bumbling best man, a desperate theatre producer, a not-so-bright hostess, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, a misguided Don Juan and an intoxicated chaperone, and you have the ingredients for an evening of madcap delight.
Music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls | Book by William F. Brown
March 13 - April 5, 2020
Directed and choreographed by Zach Ingram
Winner of seven Tony Awards and a beloved Broadway gem, The Wiz infuses L. Frank Baum’s classic novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with a dazzling mix of rock, gospel, and soul music. Also adapted into a hit film, this timeless tale of Dorothy’s adventures through the Land of Oz is a fun and thrilling family-friendly modern musical.
Rock of Ages
Music and lyrics by various artists | Book by Chris D'Arienzo
May 7 - 24, 2020
Directed by Ashley H. White | Music direction by Vonda K. Bowling
The 1980s is back in Rock of Ages, an exciting musical journey through one of the greatest music catalogues of our time! It’s the tail end of the 80s in Hollywood, and the party is raging at one of the Sunset Strip’s last legendary venues, where rock idol Stacee Jaxx regularly plays. An aspiring rock singer and a starry-eyed small-town girl dream of an exciting future. The fairy tale comes to an end when German developers sweep into town with plans to turn the fabled Strip into another capitalist strip mall. This musical features classic rock anthems by Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, and more!
Singin’ in the Rain
Music by Nacio Herb Brown | Lyrics by Arthur Freed | Book by Adolph Green and Betty Comden
July 15 - August 9, 2020
Directed by M. Scott Tatum
The "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" is faithfully and lovingly adapted for the stage. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN has all the makings of a Tinseltown tabloid headline – the starlet, the leading man and a romance that could change lives and make or break careers! In silent movies, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a hot item. But, behind the scenes, things aren't always as they appear on the big screen! Meanwhile, Lina's squeaky voice might be the end of her career in "talking pictures" without the help of a talented young actress to do the talking and singing for her.
Music by Daniel Messé | Lyrics by Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen | Book by Craig Lucas
September 3 - 20, 2020
Directed by Derek Whitener | Music direction by Mark Mullino
Based on the acclaimed 2001 film, Amélie tells the magical (and musical) story of an extraordinary young woman who lives quietly in the world but loudly in her mind. When a chance at love comes her way, she realizes that to find happiness, she’ll have to risk everything and say what’s in her heart. Be inspired by this imaginative dreamer who finds her voice, discovers the power of connection, and sees possibility around every corner.
Urinetown: The Musical
Music by Mark Hollmann | Lyrics by Hollmann and Greg Kotis | Book by Greg Kotis
October 1 - 18, 2020
Directed by Brandon Tijerina
Winner of three Tony Awards, Urinetown is a hilarious musical satire of the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theatre itself! In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity's most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides that he's had enough and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom!
The 39 Steps
By Patrick Barlow (adapted from John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock)
November 5 - 15, 2020
Directed by Tyler Jeffery Adams
Based on the Alfred Hitchcock classic, this riotous adaptation depicts a man with a boring life meeting a woman with a thick accent who says she’s a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon, a mysterious organization called “The 39 Steps” is hot on the man’s trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale!
Elf the Musical
Music by Matthew Sklar | Lyrics by Chad Beguelin | Book by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan
December 2 - 20, 2020
Directed by Mark Mullino | Music direction by Vonda K. Bowling
Based on the cherished 2003 New Line Cinema hit, Elf: The Musical is sure to delight Firehouse audiences of all ages! Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa's permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit thefirehousetheatre.com or call the box office at 972-620-3747.