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Video: Dallas Theater Center's 'Giant' New Season
by Jerome Weeks 4 Mar 2011

Yes, the Dallas Theater Center will be presenting a musical version of ‘Giant’ next season — along with a co-production with Casa Manana and three regional premieres. The full schedule complete with artistic director Kevin Moriarty’s promo video.


Earlier stories about the Dallas Theater Center looking to stage a new musical version of the Edna Ferber novel, Giant, have proven true: The big production for the DTC’s 2011-12 season will be a co-production between the Dallas Theater Center and New York’s Public Theatre. The show — with music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa and book by Sybille Pearson — already had its world premiere at Arlington,Virginia’s Signature Theatre in 2009, and the DTC is touting the show as its “biggest” in its 53-year history.

Interesting historical footnote: The director will be Michael Grief, who directed Christopher Durang’s Laughing Wild, in the Basement at the Kalita Humphreys in 1988. Since then, he’s gone on to be nominated for three Tony Awards for such little-known shows as Rent and Grey Gardens.

The other novel-to-stage adaptation that had been rumored around town — To Kill a Mockingbird — is also on the season, although not in musical form, thank goodness. But it will also be a co-production, the first in the DTC’s history with Fort Worth’s Casa Manana. Which means the show will have a very brief, 35-mile-long, two-city tour.

Mockingbird can be seen as continuing artistic director Kevin Moriarty’s fascination with playwright Horton Foote, the subject of the soon-to-launch Horton Foote Festival, which Moriarty instigated and which the DTC is participating in with the area premiere of Foote’s Dividing the Estate. Foote  won a screenplay Oscar for adapting Harper Lee’s novel into the beloved 1962 film with Gregory Peck, and although theaters often officially stage the Christopher Sergel adaptation (as listed in the DTC season), they  frequently rely on Foote’s much better script as well. Moriarty is also heading up a city-wide read of the novel; it has been the single most popular choice for the various city-wide book clubs around the country, which Dallas has never held.

As he’s done the previous two seasons, Moriarty opens the season by directing a big, splashy Shakespearean play — this time, The Tempest, which was last staged in a landmark production at the DTC by former artistic director Adrian Hall, who used it to introduce his acting company in 1987. Conveniently enough for this season, The Tempest means the DTC will have a fall “Classics” series (Giant, Mockingbird, Tempest) followed by a spring “Contemporary” season full of regional premieres.

Which frankly is where things get interesting.

Moriarty disappointed some theater watchers with the DTC’s second (current) season at the Wyly by not staging anything in the Wyly’s small Studio space. In the first Wyly season, the Studio had been home to the season’s best, most acclaimed work, the trilogy of Neil LaBute dramas called “The Beauty Plays.” They’d generated excitement about the Studio functioning as the DTC’s “alternative” second space, something the Theater Center has been trying to develop for decades.

But then this year … nothing.

The Studio Theater is back in business with Tigers Be Still by Kim Rosenstock, a very promising young writer who has already been commissioned to write a play for a future DTC season. Tigers Be Still — a comedy about a young art therapist-teacher trying to deal with her first job, her grief-stricken family and, yes, an escaped tiger — got excited reviews when it played the Roundabout Theatre in New York last year.

But that’s it for the Studio Theater for this season. After that, it’s back to … the Kalita Humphreys Theater, which is also the location, once again, for A Christmas Carol. The reason the Dickens holiday regular has not made it into the Wyly yet? Re-staging the show in the Wyly would be about as expensive as a full, new musical production. True, the DTC could amortize the costs over the umpteen seasons the production would repeat, but still — it’s a big commitment that would probably knock a Tempest or a Giant off the schedule. So we have to settle for A Christmas Carol rerun for awhile.

In any case, the Kalita will host the last two plays of the season in rotating rep: First is Yasmina Reza’s celebrated satire of upper-middle-class parenting and aggression, God of Carnage, directed by Joel Ferrell. (Interesting coincidence: The original New York production starred longtime Dallas fave with Arts & Letters Live, Marcia Gay Harden.) And then Moriarty returns as director with the philosophical comedy, Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts, artistic director of the highly regarded Naked Angels theater company in New York. A gay couple is an unusual pair: One’s a committed Christian, the other’s a determined atheist whom the Christian worriedly believes is going to hell. And then the Christian guy’s Southern parents come to visit because their son got hit by a cab and put in a coma.

Can’t imagine why anyone would want to stage that in Dallas, can you?

Oh, and one final, financial change this season: The Theater Center is lowering full-season subscriptions to $90. And it’s expanding its Pay-What-You-Can program — all in the interest of making theater affordable to a wide audience.

You can read the full press release below or you can watch Kevin play pitchman on the video above.

DALLAS THEATER CENTER Announces 2011-2012 Season

DALLAS (March 4, 2011) – Dallas Theater Center Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty announced today the theater’s 2011-2012 season for the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the historic Kalita Humphreys Theater.  DTC’s 53rd season will include four regional premieres, three comedies, two classic novels brought to life on stage, a Shakespearean romance and a Texas-sized musical that will be the biggest in Dallas Theater Center’s 53-year history.

“From heartwarming classics to brand new stories, this is going to be a season everyone is talking about,” says Moriarty.  “Our goal is to invite everyone in the community to come in and join the conversation.  We are deeply committed to being a theater for all of Dallas.  With this season, we’re going to increase our accessibility for everyone by rethinking the traditional experience of live theater, taking advantage of the unique performance spaces of our venues and expanding our community involvement and education initiatives.”

The 2011-2012 season is comprised of a fall Classics series (The Tempest, Mockingbird, Giant) and a spring Contemporary series of regional premieres (Tigers Be Still, God of Carnage, Next Fall).

“We’re not only producing great plays, we’re doing so in the most surprising and meaningful ways we can imagine,” says Moriarty.  “From the breathtaking flexibility of the Wyly Theatre, which we’ll reconfigure for each production, to the intimate Studio Theatre, where every seat is just a few rows away from the action, to the historic and warm Kalita Humphreys Theater, at DTC audiences are close to the action and feel the play vividly.  We can’t always promise exactly where your seat will be – since it will change from show to show – but we can promise that you’ll feel inside the play and be swept away by its immediacy.”

The productions will be presented as follows: In the Potter Rose Performance Hall at the Wyly TheatreThe Tempest (Sept. 9 – Oct. 9); To Kill a Mockingbird (Oct. 21 – Nov. 20, a co-production with Fort Worth’s Casa Mañana Theatre); Giant (Jan. 18 – Feb 19, a co-production with New York’s Public Theater).  In the Studio Theater in the Wyly TheatreTigers be Still (March 2 – April 15).  In the Kalita Humphreys TheaterGod of Carnage (April 26 – May 20); Next Fall (April 26 – May 20).  DTC will also produce Dallas’ favorite holiday tradition – A Christmas Carol (Nov. 25 – Dec. 24) in the Kalita Humphreys Theater.

In the 2011-2012 season, DTC will partner for the first time with Casa Manana Theatre in Fort Worth to co-produce To Kill a Mockingbird, which will be presented in both Fort Worth and Dallas.  Additionally, the theater will host a community-wide read of the novel and produce community involvement activities throughout the Dallas Arts District’s month-long Art in October celebration.  “At Dallas Theater Center, we believe we are stronger when we come together as a community,” says Moriarty.

After the success of The Good Negro in 2008, DTC and the Public Theater in New York are again joining forces, this time to co-produce a new musical based on Edna Ferber’s classic novel, Giant.  Written by Tony Award nominated writers, Michael John LaChiusa (music and lyrics) and Sybille Pearson (book), Giant will be directed by three time Tony Award nominated director Michael Greif (Rent, Grey Gardens, Next to Normal).  The epic production will be the largest in DTC’s history.

Rounding out the Classics Season, The Tempest will mark the third time for Moriarty to direct a Shakespearean play in three seasons, following A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2009) and Henry IV (2010).  According to Moriarty, “DTC returns to Shakespeare again because of the size and scope of his vision as a writer, the theatricality of his plays and as a celebration of the unique flexibility of the Wyly Theatre and the collaboration of DTC’s Brierley Resident Acting Company with outstanding national artists and students from our partnerships with SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.”

The Contemporary Season will introduce Dallas audiences to three regional premieres, each having recently appeared to critical acclaim in New York. “All three of these plays are comedies, but each is quite different from each other,” says Moriarty. “From the Tony-Award winning, laugh-out-loud wildly energetic humor of God of Carnage, to the quirky characters and witty insights of Tigers be Still, to the deeply moving Broadway play, Next Fall, each of these plays will surprise and delight our audiences and inspire lots of interesting conversation.”

To increase access to theater for the widest possible audiences, DTC will offer full subscription packages for as little as $90.  “We’re lowering the price of our most affordable subscription for the 2011-2012 season,” says Moriarty.  Additionally, DTC will continue to expand its popular Pay-What-You-Can program.  Patrons will be able to purchase tickets online effective immediately – for as little as $0.01 – anytime during the week leading up to the first public performance of every Dallas Theater Center production in addition to purchasing them at the box office the day of the performance.

During the 2011-2012 season, DTC will continue the popular Stay Late series.  After each performance, cast members return to the stage to participate in a brief, post-show discussion with patrons, focusing on the play, the production and its themes.  In addition, for the 25th year, Dallas Theater Center will partner with area schools for the Project Discovery program, which provides free tickets and bus transportation to students at area high schools.

2011-2012 Season Lineup*

*Production information subject to change

THE TEMPEST                                                                                                               Sept. 9 – Oct. 9

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Kevin Moriarty
Potter Rose Performance Hall, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre

There could scarcely be a more provocative start to the season – or a more vivid way to experience Shakespeare’s beloved final play.  Unique staging that transports you deeply into spectacle, music and dance. Immortal themes such as the power of forgiveness and the bond between parent and child.  And a cast that includes our Brierley Resident Acting Company and actors from SMU’s MFA program. Talk about a conversation starter!

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD                                                                                          Oct. 21 – Nov. 20

Adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel
Based on the novel by Harper Lee

Directed by Wendy Dann
A co-production with Casa Mañana Theatre

Potter Rose Performance Hall, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre

Scout. Atticus. Jem. Boo Radley. Jim Robinson. Their story has changed countless lives. See it through fresh eyes yourself. And bring it to life for a new generation with your children and grandchildren. Presented in partnership with Casa Mañana and staged in the Wyly Theatre, this production is the centerpiece of a region-wide community collaboration to introduce North Texas children to the story and its themes of courage, tolerance and justice.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL Nov. 25 – Dec. 24
By Charles Dickens

Adapted by Richard Hellesen

Music by David de Berry

Directed by Joel Ferrell

Choreographed by Joel Ferrell
Kalita Humphreys Theater

From tiny tots to young-at-heart seniors, for a lot of North Texans it just wouldn’t be the holidays without DTC’s festive production of the Dickens classic.  It’s a lot like Christmas itself.  Magical and moving and colorful and filled with laughter and song (including favorite carols and newer originals).

GIANT Jan. 18 – Feb. 19
Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChuisa

Book by Sybille Pearson

Based on the novel by Edna Ferber

Directed by Michael Greif

A co-production with the Public Theater

Potter Rose Performance Hall, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre

Sprawling story, larger-than-life characters, Texas-size musical numbers — Giant not only lives up to its name, it goes down in history as Dallas Theater Center’s biggest production ever. Co-produced with the Public Theater and directed by three-time Tony nominee Michael Greif (Rent, Angels in America), this classic tale of ambition, love and West Texas crude comes to the stage with song after memorable song by Michael John LaChiusa.

TIGERS BE STILL March 2 – April 15
by Kim Rosenstock

Directed by Hal Brooks
Studio Theatre, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre

Say hello to Kim Rosenstock, one of America’s most engaging young playwrights.  Her quirky-charming-funny Tigers Be Still puts the fun in dysfunction with endearingly neurotic characters, pop-culture high jinks (Top Gun, anyone?) and, yes, escaped carnivorous cats.  You’ll be delighted you’re acquainted with the work of the talented Ms. Rosenstock.  DTC has commissioned this formidable rising star to write a new play for a future season.  So no you know.  Get your tickets while you can.

GOD OF CARNAGE                                                                                                    April 17 – May 20

By Yasmina Reza

Directed by Joel Ferrell

Kalita Humphreys Theater

Two 11-year old boys have had a run-in on the playground and some very bad behavior ensues… by their parents.  When four supposedly civilized adult and definitely pretentious upper-middle class individuals gather to discuss their sons’ little dust-up, they raise smugness, pettiness and meanness to heady new heights of hilarity.  You’ll have endless fun repeating their deliciously snarky remarks.  In jest, of course.  Always in jest.

NEXT FALL April 26 – May 20
By Geoffrey Nauffts

Directed by Kevin Moriarty
Kalita Humphreys Theater

On the surface it’s a quick-witted ensemble comedy. But Next Fall never stays “surface.” Nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play in 2010, it’s the story of Luke and Adam, a most unlikely couple. Luke’s a hard-core Christian; Adam’s a hard-core atheist. When circumstances bring Luke’s Southern parents into the picture, Next Fall shines as what the New York Times calls “an intellectual stealth bomb,” asking a big question: How do you profoundly love someone you profoundly disagree with?

  • Jim

    Sorry to be dense or naive, but what’s the humor or irony in staging Next Fall in Dallas? Yes, we have a large conservative Christian community and a large gay community, but is there something else I’m missing?

  • Jim

    Also, the video’s not working. Says it’s “private.”

    • Stephen Becker

      Jim –
      Video seems to be working now.

  • Steven

    This season looks SOOOOOOO BORING! (with the exception of Giant & Moriartys take on Tempest)

    And why leave the coolness of the Wyly for 2 shows back to back at the old Kalita.

    YAWN! Guess now that Moriartys got his contract extended he thinks he’s safe to plan a season without any creativity.

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  • Jerome Weeks


    No, you pegged it. The DTC is calling this the ‘season everyone will be talking about,’ and whether anyone will really be talking about a staging of To Kill a Mockingbird remains to be seen (even with a city-wide reading thrown in). But a play combining disagreements about conservative Christian faith, homosexuality, family relationships, hospital care, death and the afterlife – yeah, I think that might qualify.