New Season, New Work

Dallas' Theatre Three doubles down on new work and local artists in 2018-19

Dallas' Theatre Three doubles down on new work and local artists

The original Broadway production of Once
The original Broadway production of Once. Photo by Joan Marcus

Continuing the theme he began last year, artistic director Jeffrey Schmidt is filling Theatre Three's 57th season with new works by local artists. Of the eight mainstage productions, three will be penned by Dallasites.

Another is already slated for the 2019-20 season: a commissioned play with the working title Funny, You Don't Act Like a Negro, written by local actress and singer Denise Lee under the mentorship of playwright Jonathan Norton.

"Our new season will be definitely be a busy one," says Schmidt. "We look forwarding to building on the foundation we laid last season through rewarding collaborations with local writers, directors, designers, artists, and actors. By doubling down on new works, we are aiming to attract more patrons to our theater by introducing new theatrical experiences to them."

The doubling down starts with Double Feature, two one-act plays that explore how people's age, gender, and experience affect their need for love, desire, and affection. One is Heisenberg by Simon Stephens (he also wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), which looks at a chance encounter between a 40-something American woman and a 75-year-old Irish butcher at a busy London train station. Actually by Anna Ziegler examines the notion of consent, as two Princeton freshmen meet at a party that forever changes their lives. The two plays, directed by Schmidt and Katy Tye, respectively, are presented together under one bill, running August 2-26, 2018. 

The Tony-winning musical Once is next, featuring an ensemble of actor/musicians who play all their instruments onstage (under the musical direction of Scott Eckert). Based on the 2007 film of the same name, the musical — about a Dublin busker and the Czech girl he falls for — features a score of Irish-tinged folk tunes by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová and a book by Enda Walsh. Marianne Galloway, who directed T3's excellent A Little Night Music in 2017, returns to direct. It will run September 13-October 7, 2018.

A "play with music" follows, the dark comedy by Jen Silverman called The Moors. Two Victorian-era sisters (Agatha and Huldey) and their languid mastiff live out their lives in a manor house on the bleak English moors. Like any apt Gothic tale, they dream of forbidden love, power, and notoriety. The arrival of a hapless governess, the pointed schemes of a scullery maid, and the musings of a moorhen set this odd assembly on a strange and dangerous path. It will run October 25-November 18, 2018.

The break-out stars of last year's new holiday offering, Solstice, were undoubtedly Stuart and Paulette (played by Paul Taylor and Denise Lee). The mischievous older couple spent their vignette (which was written by Jonathan Norton) gazing at the night sky while indulging in some herbal refreshments, but this year they are the stars of the show. Norton, along with Janielle Kastner and musicl director Cherish Robinson, is expanding their story and taking them on an adventure through NorthPark Center at the height of Christmastime. The new holiday adventure will run December 6-30, 2018.

Frequent T3 contributor Michael Federico teams up with local musician and actor Ian Ferguson for a brand-new musical called The Manufactured Myth of Eveline Flynn. Featuring songs that range in style from contemporary musical theater to Abba-esque disco pop to intergalactic punk, the show revolves around a young woman whose grasp on reality is slowly slipping away. Directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni, with musical direction by Vonda Bowling, the musical will run January 31-February 24, 2019.

Another "play with music" is up next, this one based on the Foxfire anthology that chronicles the oral history, traditions, and folklore of the Appalachian Mountain descendent. Foxfire centers on Annie Nations, an indomitable Appalachian widow of 79, who lives on her North Georgia mountain farm with the acerbic ghost of her husband, Hector. Her tranquility is threatened by a brash real estate developer who wants to turn her land into a vacation resort, and by concern over her son Dillard, a country singer who has come home with two stranded children because his wife ran away. Written by Susan Cooper and Hume Cronyn with music by Jonathan Holtzman, the show will run March 14-April 7, 2019.

Local playwright Matt Lyle had his Cedar Springs or Big Scary Animals produced in the Theatre Too downstairs space in 2017, but 2019 will see his commissioned play Raptured: A Sex Farce at the End of the World upstairs on the mainstage. Co-written with Matt Coleman and directed by Schmidt, this door-slamming farce concerns the congregants of the Third Baptist Church in the town of Uncertain, Texas, two hours before the believed end of the world. Expect love triangles, mistaken identities, a puckish youth pastor, a preacher on a dubious mission, and deeply irrevocable existential longing. It will run April 25-May 19, 2019.

Coming full circle, the season will end with a pair of one-acts by Selina Fillinger called The Armor Plays: Cinched and Strapped. The plays explore gender and rebellion by examining the past and exploring the future, with the first set in during a 19th-century high-class dinner party and the second in a dystopian future. Directed by Leslie Swackhamer, they will run June 6-30, 2019.

Schmidt has not forgotten about his plan to turn Theatre Too into an incubator for new local work. He says there are no plans to produce an official season for 2018-19, but will instead use the basement space as the setting for Theatre Three's new Monday Playwright series. Playwrights will be encouraged to read, rehearse, develop, and host staged readings of their new works over a two-day period, beginning in April of this year and with more dates available following the summer.

Theatre Three season tickets range from $80-$256 and will go on sale May 15. Single tickets will be available at a later date. For ticket information, call the Theatre Three box office at 214-871-3300, extension 1, or visit www.theatre3dallas.com.