New Season, New Direction

Theatre Three's radical new season freshens up Uptown with new work

Theatre Three's radical new season freshens up Uptown with new work

"She Kills Monsters" original Off-Broadway production at The Flea
A scene from the original Off-Broadway production of She Kills Monsters at the Flea Theater. Photo by Joan Marcus

Amid revelry and wine, new artistic director Jeffrey Schmidt announced Theatre Three's 2017-18 season to a gathering of season subscribers, guests artists and directors, and theater patrons eager for change.

Change is certainly what they got, as Schmidt unveiled a lineup for the 56-year-old Uptown theater that is radically different from its previous seasons. On the main stage docket are three regional premieres, a lesser-known musical, a classic play, a new holiday tradition, and the professional world premiere of a musical developed by local artists.

"This season is the groundwork for my relationship with patrons, artists, donors, etc.," says Schmidt in a release. "I want to let them know who I am, what I’m about, and where I see the theater heading in the future."

Schmidt sees new work, especially the kind created by local artists, along with a better awareness of Theatre Three's sometimes challenging theater-in-the-round configuration.

"Part of the mandate I gave myself was to select shows that fit in the theater’s spaces," Schmidt says. "Casts will be on the smaller side and lavish Broadway style productions will be avoided. T3 will never be avant-garde, but it can be innovative and relevant."

There's an overhaul planned for the Theatre Too basement space, as well. T2 will become an incubation space for — here's the magic word again — local artists and companies. Tentatively, works being prepared for this season include new plays by Matt Lyle and Jessica Cavanagh, and a work of physical theater by PrismCo.

Signaling that this truly is the beginning of a new era in leadership, Schmidt also sounded the final bell for the annual musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!, which has been a hit for Theatre Three for the last 17 years. Further details and show dates will be announced at a later time.

The 2017-18 main stage season begins with The Minotaur by Anna Ziegler, a present-day version of a classic Greek myth that offers a contemporary take on love, honor, and human connection while challenging what that Greek chorus says. It runs August 3-27, 2017.

Next up is Joshua Schmidt (no relation) and Jason Loewith's musical adaption of Elmer Rice's incendiary 1923 play Adding Machine. It follows Mr. Zero who, after 25 years of service to his company, is replaced by a mechanical adding machine. In a vengeful rage, he murders his boss and is sent on a journey to the afterlife in the Elysian Fields, where he is met with one last chance for romance and redemption. It will run September 28-October 22, 2017.

Solstice: Stories & Songs for the Holidays is presented with this note: "Celebrate the beginning of winter and the shortest day in the northern hemisphere snuggled up inside Theatre Three with your favorite beverage. We hope to start a new family tradition filled with celebration, stories, and songs performed by professional actors and musicians." Get your beverages ready November 24-December 17, 2017.

2018 starts off with two bangs, as Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde continues the unofficial "classic monsters" theme that Dallas Theater Center began with Frankenstein. This "new and shocking" version will have members of the cast portraying the many facets of Edward Hyde's personality, and it will run January 18-February 11, 2018.

Qui Nguyen's She Kills Monsters is a heart-pounding homage to '90s pop culture, Dungeons & Dragons, and the warrior geek in all of us. There's a welcome feminist bent, as the play follows Agnes Evans into an imaginary world summoned when she discovers her deceased teenaged sister's D&D notebook. It runs March 8-April 1, 2018.

The Last One Nighter on the Death Trail starring The Disappointment Players is a new musical by locals Christie Vela and David Goodwin, with songs by Our Endeavors Theater Collective. Set behind a 1930s vaudeville theater in Deep Ellum, a "disappointment act" (who only perform if someone else cancels) debate what is and isn't art, and why it's necessary, while they wait to hear if they'll go on. It plays April 26-May 20, 2018.

Schmidt's first season concludes with Christopher Hampton's classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which many are more familiar with as the film adaptation Dangerous Liaisons (or its teen spin-off, Cruel Intentions). A game of sexual and emotional manipulation is played out among French aristocrats, with treacherous results. It runs June 14-July 8, 2018.

“The structure of T3’s programing won’t change, at least for the coming season," says Schmidt. "The timing of my appointment prevented any significant restructuring. In the coming years, I want to strike a balance between innovative challenging work and classic American theater. I want good juicy roles for actors to sink their teeth into.

My aesthetic has always incorporated inventive design, so I want to have exciting opportunities for designers as well. I don’t think a theater of this size has the luxury of producing only one kind, style, or genre of theater. Good writing? Of course. Relevance? Definitely. Classics? Yes. Provocative? Please. Campy and cheesy? Not really, but there are always exceptions to the rule."