The Final Curtain

Lower Greenville's Contemporary Theatre of Dallas takes its last bow

Lower Greenville's Contemporary Theatre of Dallas takes its last bow

As We Lie Still musical
As We Lie Still turned out to be Contemporary Theatre of Dallas' last full-length production. Photo courtesy of Contemporary Theatre of Dallas

Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, which has held cultural court on Lower Greenville for 14 years, will close at the end of 2016. It's the first closure of a major Dallas theater company in at least a decade.

Managing director Miki Bone made the announcement over Facebook and through an email, stating that, "After having produced a critically and financially successful 14th season, it's a blessing to be able to close on a high note with tremendous regard for all involved."

Contemporary Theatre of Dallas was founded by Sue Loncar, who acted as artistic director and often appeared onstage in the company's productions.

Bone, who became managing director in 2014, praised Loncar and her husband, personal injury attorney Brian Loncar, in her statement, noting that "Supporting area artists has always been a huge part of Loncar's passion, having employed hundreds of local artists from all over the Metroplex. Her love and respect for actors, directors and designers has been a priority from the get-go, and was one of the core reasons she was inspired to open the theatre."

Sue Loncar would often deliver the curtain speech preceding the performance, and there were several framed photographs of her in various roles scattered throughout the building. 

"I wanted to create a theatrical experience that really encapsulated our personality," says Loncar in the release. "CTD is one of a kind; it's not just a place one goes to see a great show ... it's an evening with friends. Every time you enter our doors, we are genuinely thrilled to see you, and we make sure you know it."

Contemporary Theatre of Dallas began as an Actor's Equity Association Small Professional Theatre, then became for-profit that was known for paying its actors some of the highest wages in town. It had recently gone non-profit.

The homegrown musical As We Lie Still closed on November 20, and CTD will finish out the year with a storytelling event with Randy Bonifay and Jim Pfitzer on November 28, the Laugh Supper improv group on December 3, and a stand-up comedy night on December 17.

The release implies that Loncar would no longer be involved with CTD, and that her absence is the main reason for its closure.

"The CTD brand and the building and the Loncar name are inextricably linked in the minds of the audience, critics, and theater community," says Bone. "One element cannot exist without the others; to try to continue on without one of those elements in play would be a disservice to that brand and its distinctive vision.

"That doesn't mean our creative endeavors are over or that we won't work together in the future," she adds. "It simply means that our professional and personal goals have taken a turn."

As its name suggests, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas often produced plays and musicals from the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. It also produced new works on occasion, such as Dallas couple Patrick Emile and Olivia de Guzman Emile's As We Lie Still and Bone's Division Avenue. The company's productions of James McLure's Lone Star and Laundry and Bourbon were performed off-Broadway in 2013.

No plans have been revealed on what will happen to the building on the corner of Sears and Summit, which was originally built as a church in the 1930s. Lower Greenville has recently enjoyed a resurgence, with popular retail and restaurant options such as Truck Yard, Trader Joe's, Blind Butcher, and Rapscallion opening less than a block away from the theater.

"There is no doubt that CTD has contributed to the neighborhood's rising status," Bone says. "It has absolutely added to the cultural development of the area in a substantial way, and has attracted a great deal of interest in the building as a valuable commercial property."