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From Black Art To Messages Of Hope, Dallas Summer Musicals Reaches Many – In Their Homes


by Mia Estrada 5 Aug 2020 6:00 AM

Every day on Art&Seek, we’re talking to people who have tips for virtual art experiences. Share yours with us on Facebook, Instagram or @artandseek on Twitter. Click above to listen to Ken Novice, president of Dallas Summer Musicals, share his tip with KERA’s Nilufer Arsala. 

Ever since the start of the COVID-19 restrictions in mid-March, stages across the country have gone dark — from community and professional theaters to the brightest stages on Broadway. No heart-wrenching monologues. No big song and dance numbers. No applause from appreciative audiences.

For Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM), the North Texas presenter of Broadway shows, that meant cancelling hits like Disney’s Frozen, The Cher Show, Escape to Margaritaville and Come From Away. All were canceled this summer or were closed early. But DSM hopes to turn the lights back on at the Music Hall in November with the jukebox musical, Jersey Boys.

Watch Dallas Summer Musicals virtual content on YouTube. Buy tickets for Christopher Jackson: Live from the West Side benefit live stream concert on Aug. 15.

For now, DSM still brings the spirit of Broadway  not to a local stage but to your home. The organization has launched several new virtual series on YouTube. The newest shows include DSM Smiles and Black Art Matters.

DSM president Ken Novice said both series are weekly and are presented by the education and community partnerships team.

Black Art Matters is hosted by Devon Miller and was launched on July 31.

“It’s about the experience of being a Black artist and how their art is crafted and shaped by their identity,” Novice said.

In the first episode, two-time DSM High School Musical Theatre Award winner Haley Dortch performs I’m Here, a song from the movie The Color Purple

Dortch discusses the struggles of growing up bi-racial and living in a predominately white neighborhood. She recounts how she wore her hair up every day until she was 16 because, one time, the girls at school told her curly hair was “ratchet” and “ghetto.”

“It’s been a struggle I’d say in my life to really find my Black identity,” Dortch said. “It’s really hard to find who you are when you’re like ‘Am I being too Black for my white friends, like, will they like me?’ So I found myself consistently trying to impress other people.”

Dortch said being an actress helped her discover her true self and frame her identity.  

Seth Johnson hosts DSM Smiles, a weekly show on good news. The series collects messages of hope from the community in order to spread smiles during the pandemic.

In the pilot episode, Johnson reads messages from Dallas ISD students and shares the story of 10-year-old Izzy Martin, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. In collaboration with the Dallas jewelry company Hazen & Co., Martin’s goal of selling 500 necklaces has been reached. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to families of pediatric cancer patients to help with unforeseen expenses related to the disease.

DSM also has an educational series on character studies and What Do You Do with a BA in Theater?, which features interviews with theater professionals. 

The educational series began as a way to help new college graduates learn about the different opportunities for jobs in the theater and entertainment industry, including theater management and communications. The series has more than 30 episodes with professionals, including Novice.

Upcoming Event for Dallas Summer Musicals:

  • Saturday, August 15 at 7 p.m. Christopher Jackson: Live from the West Side live stream concert. Jackson, who starred in Hamilton and In the Heights, will perform Broadway tunes, pop hits and his own original songs. Some proceeds from the one-night-only event will benefit DSM’s educational and outreach programs. Tickets are on sale now.

Got a tip? Email Mia Estrada at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @miaaestrada.

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