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Dallas Theater Center tackles timely topics with its 2018-19 season

Dallas Theater Center tackles timely topics with its 2018-19 season

Fetch Clay, Make Man at New York Theatre Workshop
A scene from the Off Broadway production of Will Power's Fetch Clay, Make Man. Photo by Joan Marcus

UPDATE: The summer musical will be Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's Hairspray, based on the John Waters film of the same name. It will be a co-production between Dallas Theater Center and AT&T Performing Arts Center (the first of its kind), and will run July 7-15, 2018 at the Winspear Opera House as part of both organizations' regular seasons.

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Most likely still riding its post-Tony Award high, Dallas Theater Center has stocked its 2018-19 season with works by local playwrights (one, a world premiere), a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a few familiar titles. And there are still two productions yet to be announced: a "family-friendly" summer musical and the next Public Works production.

First up is a Southern classic that's often eclipsed by its star-studded film version. Robert Harling based his script for Steel Magnolias on his sister and the women who surrounded him while growing up in Louisiana, and much of the friendship, celebration, and grief they experience is shared while at the local beauty parlor. It runs September 28-October 21, 2018, in the Wyly Theatre.

Dallas Theater Center's playwright-in-residence, Will Power, hasn't had a show on a Dallas stage since 2015's Stagger Lee, but one of his prior works is on tap for this season. Fetch Clay, Make Man explores what it means to be a black man in America. Through a loosely inspired look at the real-life friendship between Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) and Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry (aka Stepin Fetchit), Power shapes their legacies against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. It runs December 5, 2018-January 6, 2019 in the Wyly Theatre's studio space.

Lynn Nottage's 2015 play Sweat won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for drama, making her the only woman to have ever won the award twice (she first claimed it eight years earlier for Ruined). This unflinching look at life in the industrial working class was hailed by The New Yorker as "the first theatrical landmark of the Trump era," and follows best friends Tracey and Cynthia as their jobs at a Pennsylvania steel factory are threatened by the recession. It runs February 8-March 3, 2019, at the Kalita Humphreys Theater.

Also in the running for that 2017 Pulitzer was Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves, a unexpectedly candid look at a pack of athletes who also happen to be teenage girls. Meeting every Saturday to stretch before their games, the squad of nine evolves from high-school gossip to mature meditations on themselves and their place in the world. It runs March 6-April 7, 2019, in the Wyly Theatre's studio space.

Throwing it back to another classic, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is up next. The romantic comedy begins with a shipwrecked Viola, who disguises herself as a man in order to get work. Of course, she ends up falling in love with her new employer, even as he sends her to woo another woman in his place. It runs March 29-April 28, 2019, in the Wyly Theatre.

Penny Candy, a world premiere commissioned from local playwright Jonathan Norton and set in Dallas' own Pleasant Grove, follows one family as they find their way amid increasing neighborhood turmoil. Twelve-year-old Jon-Jon helps his father run Paw Paw’s Candy Tree out of their run-down, one-bedroom apartment, while a surge of violence fueled by epidemic drug use and an increasingly hostile police presence begins to loom outside their door. It runs June 5-July 7, 2019, in the Wyly Theatre studio space.

First a play and later a film, Josefina López's Real Women Have Curves is set in an East L.A. garment factory, where recent high school graduate Ana works alongside women who spend their days discussing everything from body image issues to the threat of deportation. It runs June 28-July 21, 2019, at the Kalita Humphreys Theater.

"Our 2018-2019 season is filled with exciting new productions and much-loved classics," says DTC's artistic director Kevin Moriarty. "I'm thrilled to introduce Jonathan Norton's play, Penny Candy, to the American theater, where I'm certain it will have a lasting, national impact. I'm overjoyed to welcome the work of DTC's playwright-in-residence, Will Power, to our stage. I'm honored to introduce some of the most acclaimed plays of the past year to Dallas audiences in their regional premieres, and I'm eager to laugh alongside our audiences with a trio of feel-good classic comedies."

Returning as a holiday add-on is Moriarty's adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Not much else is disclosed about this year's spin on the classic, besides the promise of "magical ghosts flying above, scary ghosts bursting out of the floor, and snow falling on everyone." It runs November 21-December 30, 2018, at the Wyly Theatre.

The summer musical, the Public Works production, and A Christmas Carol are not part of DTC's regular season subscription, which is on sale now at www.dallastheatercenter.org or by calling 214-880-0202 — remember, tickets to the Public Works show are free but still require a reservation.

DTC will continue its Come Early and Stay Late programs in the 2018-19 season. Come Early is a free, 30-minute informative talk designed to enhance the audience's play-going experience, given one hour before every performance. Stay Late is a brief post-show conversation with a member of the cast about the show (it's also free). Both encourage patrons to learn about the production and share their insights.

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