Dallas Theater Center explores new works and ways to perform in 2020-21
UPDATE: On May 4, 2021, Dallas Theater Center announced that Working: A Musical (July 7-18, 2021) and Public Works Dallas' film A Little Less Lonely (available during August) will finish out the 2020-21 schedule. Challenges in finding an outdoor venue have led to the cancelation of War of the Worlds. Tiny Beautiful Things and Cake Ladies will be postponed until the 2021-22 season.
Though Dallas Theater Center tentatively announced a 2020-21 season in April, a lot has happened in the coronasphere since then. So DTC is updating its lineup with new titles, new dates, and new ways of performing and viewing the productions.
Gone are The Sound of Music and Native Gardens, but staying are Tiny Beautiful Things and A Christmas Carol ... sort of. More on that later.
"Despite the immense challenges of COVID-19, we are overjoyed that we are returning to produce a full season of unique productions, along with an array of education and community engagement virtual programs, even while we wait for the day when we can once again welcome large audiences back into our theater spaces," says artistic director Kevin Moriarty.
"To serve our community, we will innovate throughout the season with a mixture of programming that will be filmed and distributed digitally, as well as interactive theatrical experiences that can be experienced in person by audiences who are socially distanced," he continues. "We hope to welcome small, live audiences back to the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in the spring for intimate productions, which will also be distributed digitally for those who are unable to return to public spaces at that time."
The six-event season includes a world-premiere comedy written by Jonathan Norton specifically for this season; the regional premiere of an adaptation of a bestselling book; a musical revue celebrating working people; unique, immersive explorations of Grimm fairy tales and a science-fiction classic; and a new film inspired by A Christmas Carol.
Casting will only draw from the Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company, the release notes, and the theater's full-time production staff will design and build all the productions.
"One of the challenges we have faced in returning has been the requirement by Actors' Equity, our national union partner, that actors cannot return for live performances until the case count reaches 5 per 100,000 people in the county," says DTC managing director Jeff Woodward. "Unfortunately, in Dallas County and for most regions of the country, we are well above this number, so very few professional theater companies in this country have been able to have live performances. But we can safely film the actors and use their work in the two immersive experiences."
The season begins on December 4 with the release of In the Bleak Midwinter: A Christmas Carol for Our Time. Written and directed by Moriarty, this film is "a bold reimagining of Charles Dickens' classic holiday story." Set in modern times, the adaptation stars new company member Blake Hackler as Scrooge. The on-demand video will be distributed digitally to subscribers and ticket buyers throughout the holiday season.
There will also be a special, one-night-only performance of A Christmas Carol in Concert on December 12, 2020, in Strauss Square at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Featuring community members and actors from the Brierley Resident Acting Company reading excerpts from Charles Dickens' novel, interspersed with performances of traditional holiday songs, the outdoor performance will feature social distancing for all audience members, and masks will be required as people of all ages.
From January 22-31, 2021, at a location yet to be determined, Tiffany Nicole Greene (the resident director of Hamilton) will direct Something Grim(m), an immersive theatrical exploration of the fairy-tale form. Greene created and devised the work with the Brierley Resident Acting Company, and it will encompass visual art, scenescapes, and a captivating audio soundtrack that will be experienced as a site-specific work of performance art.
The second event, War of the Worlds: An Immersive Theatrical Experience, is written by Moriarty and directed by Christie Vela. For only eight performances, from February 22-28, 2021, this unique, in-person theatrical experience will immerse audience members in the classic science-fiction story by H.G. Wells.
As news spreads that Martians are coming to earth and the world prepares for a violent clash, the audience receives phone calls and texts warning them of pending danger. They are ushered into a hiding place to take shelter from the battle, but the war outside gets perilously close. Soon the audience is on the move again, attempting to escape the assault of the extraterrestrials. Combining cell phones, audio drama, video technology, and elements of a haunted house, War of the Worlds explores various storytelling techniques to engage the audience in a thrilling sci-fi adventure brought to life.
In the spring, the theater will welcome small, socially distanced audiences to the Wyly Theatre for three plays that will be offered for in-person audiences and on video for safe home viewing.
Cake Ladies (running April 3-May 15, 2021) is a world-premiere comedy from Dallas Theater Center's playwright-in-residence Jonathan Norton.
The Scott County Community Playhouse is the pride of Cedar Oak, Texas, a city ravaged by the second-largest drug-fueled HIV outbreak ever to hit small-town America. When the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down the playhouse production of Angels in America, the loss is a devastating blow to a city desperate to mend. As the virus spreads, Cedar Oak's dark past comes to the surface, and best friends LeAnne (Sally Nystuen Vahle) and Tweedy-Bird (Liz Mikel) — affectionately known as "the cake ladies" — must confront their buried secrets.
Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the New York Times bestseller by Cheryl Strayed, adapted by Nia Vardalos, and directed by Joel Ferrell, runs in rep with Cake Ladies from April 10-May 15, 2021. This regional premiere follows Sugar, an online advice columnist who uses her personal experiences to help the real-life readers who pour their hearts out.
The season ends with Working: A Musical, directed by Tiana Kaye Blair and with performances from June 1-27, 2021. Based on Studs Terkel's bestselling book, this unique musical features average working Americans' real-life words, set to music by a diverse collection of extraordinary storytelling songwriters. Through original songs by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights), James Taylor, and others, Working lifts the voices of teachers, waiters, truck drivers, and the essential workers who often go unnoticed but whose work uplifts our lives day in and day out.
In July, Dallas Theater Center's Public Works Dallas program celebrates a year of creative classes and workshops held online and at community partner sites across Dallas with a week of live, socially-distanced performances. Each day, join DTC at a new location throughout the city to enjoy scenes, songs, and artistry created and performed by members of the diverse community in collaboration with Dallas Theater Center's professional artists, culminating in a one-night showcase presentation at the Wyly Theatre on July 24, 2021.
For more information on the new season or to purchase tickets, visit the DTC website or call the box office at 214-522-8499.