Stage Notes is a weekly aggregate post about theater, classical music and stage news, events, reviews and other pertinent information.
After two decades, Raphael Parry will leave Shakespeare Dallas
Shakespeare Dallas dropped some big local theater news on Wednesday. Artistic Director Raphael Parry will retire from full-time administration at the end of this month after 20 years with the company. He was set to retire before the pandemic but ultimately stayed on to help the company navigate through the questionable climate arts organizations were challenged with at the time. Shakespeare Dallas and the Board of Directors will honor Parry with the title of Executive and Artistic Director Emeritus. While he leaves Shakespeare Dallas, he will stay in Dallas and work as a freelance actor and director.
“I have loved my time serving Shakespeare Dallas. It has been an honor to meet and work with generations of incredible local theater talent,” he stated in Wednesday’s press release. “It’s humbling to consider the caliber of artists who have worked with our company. One of the best parts of my job has been to mentor young artists and watch them evolve and grow. I’m looking forward to rejoining this community on stage soon.”
Parry’s legacy with North Texas theater spans across 40 years as actor and director as well as “creating new works, re-envisioning classics, educating youth, mentoring young artists, and expanding and diversifying audiences.”
In his time at SD, he produced 60 plays, directed 20 of them and acted in six. He also expanded the season to year-round rather than just summer. He expanded the seasons from two Shakespeare in the Park summer productions to a year-round season that includes both indoor and outdoor shows and educational outreach for both children and adults.
“Raphael completely transformed Shakespeare Dallas,” Board President Lauren York stated. “His roots in the Dallas arts community run deep. He took us to a new level artistically and both expanded and diversified our audience base. The board will be forever grateful for the philanthropic and artistic connections he’s made on our behalf that continue to nurture the organization.”
Jenni Stewart will serve as interim Artistic Director for the 2023 season.
Theatre Arlington launches new playwriting contest
On Wednesday, Theatre Arlington Executive Producer, Steven D. Morris announced TA’s new Playwriting Contest as a part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.
Theatre Arlington is looking for a wide range of selections that represent the entire community.Underrepresented voices and BIPOC authors are strongly encouraged to submit their works. Plays will be accepted from March 23-May 23. Any subject matter is welcome but extremely graphic material will not be considered.
The winning play will be announced July 27 with a staged reading ppresented at the theater’s Pinnacle Bank Play-Reading Club on Sept. 22 and 23. The play will be directed and performed by theater professionals and the playwright will be invited to participate in a talkback after the performance.
The new works should have standard play formatting with a cast size of six or less characters, one or two acts and 90 minutes in total length. Playwrights may send a paper copy of their script to: Steven D. Morris Theatre Arlington at 305 W. Main Street Arlington, TX 76010.
PDFs may also be emailed to email@example.com. All submissions must be postmarked or email date-stamped by May 23, 2023.
Read more here.
The Dallas Opera announces 2023/24 season
Thursday morning, TDO’s General Director Ian Derrer and Music Director Emmanuel Villaume announced the lineup for its 66th season for 2023/24. The season will feature a world premiere and three productions not seen in the area along with annual staples. TDO will also continue Crescendo, its membership initiative for young professionals which will enter its second season.
“We are thrilled to bring three new-to-Dallas productions and a long-awaited world premiere to our audiences, both near and far, in the 2023/2024 Mainstage Season,” Derrer said in the press release.
The new season includes the following productions:
Oct. 7: The People’s Choice Concert
Oct. 13-21: Tosca by Giacomo Puccini features Joseph Calleja in his Dallas Opera debut with Ewa Płonka as Tosca and Gihoon Kim as Scarpia also making his debut. The production will be directed by Andrew Nienaber in his company debut, with set and costume design by Robert Perdziola. Villaume conducts The Dallas Opera Orchestra and Chorus.
Oct. 14 : Family Opera — The Billy Goats Gruff by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini
Nov. 3-11: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly composed by Joby Talbot to a libretto by Gene Scheer. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the remarkable true story of a man whose determination leads to one of the most poignant memoirs ever written. We are honored to bring this story to our stage for the first time anywhere. This season also brings a host of exciting Dallas Opera debuts including tenor Joseph Calleja, soprano Golda Shultz, tenor Long Long, and soprano Marjorie Owens,” Derrer said.
This world premiere Dallas Opera production will be led by Grammy Award-winner Lucas Meachem as Jean-Dominique Bauby based on his memoir. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, tenor Richard Croft, soprano Deanna Breiwick, bass Kevin Burdette, soprano Andriana Chuchman, and tenor Andrew Bidlack lend their voices to the production.
“To conduct a world premiere production as inspiring as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an extraordinary and rare opportunity,” Villaume expressed in the release. “It is important to offer our audiences new and exciting pieces, while also remembering the music we know and love. I find it just as thrilling to revisit those productions, as I do immersing myself into a new score. This season has it all and we cannot wait to make music in the Winspear once again.”
Nov. 12: Family Opera — Pépito by Jacques Offenbach. These special performances are designed for audiences 3 and older and are sung in English. Both shows are under 60 minutes with no intermission and all seating is general admission at the Winspear Opera House.
Jan. 21: The Robert E. and Jean Ann Titus Family Recital featuring Lawrence Brownlee with pianist Myra Huang.
Jan. 28: The Hart Institute for Women Conductors Showcase Concert
Feb. 9: Elektra by Richard Strauss, pictured. The show returns to The Dallas Opera for only the second time in company history, last performed over 25 years ago. Dallas Opera’s 2002 Vocal Competition winner Marjorie Owens makes her Dallas Opera debut in the title role, along with Denyce Graves as Elektra’s murderous mother, Klytämnestra. The cast includes soprano Angela Meade, Clifton Forbis and the debut of Alfred Walker. The show will be directed by Nick Sandys, in his company debut, with set and costume designs by John Macfarlane.
March 1-9: Romeo and Juliet by Charles Gounoud. This production will features two of the biggest Dallas Opera debuts this season: tenor Long Long as Romeo and soprano Golda Schultz as Juliet. Opera legend Donnie Ray Albert returns as Lord Capulet in this new-to-Dallas co-production with Houston Grand Opera and The Atlanta Opera. Nicole Paiement leads The Dallas Opera Orchestra and Chorus, and Romain Gilbert directs in his Dallas Opera debut.
March 2: Family Opera — Pépito by Jacques Offenbach
March 10: Family Opera — The Billy Goats Gruff by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini
“In an exciting continuation from last season, we will livestream the last performance of all four mainstage productions,” Derrer mentioned. “Our commitment to bringing world-class opera to audiences, wherever they may be, is as strong as ever. Making these performances available on a pay-what-you’re-able basis keeps our artform accessible to all viewers.”
Single tickets go on sale July 21.
Review: Intimate Apparel at MainStage ILC is the study of a woman’s power
Whether MainStage ILC timed it just right or not, its current production of Intimate Apparel felt apropos for this Women’s History Month. In Lynn Nottage’s play set in 1905 New York, the central character relies on her own skills and strength to push through life in a time when women — particularly Black women — couldn’t have the agency to do so. The result of this cast and crew’s production was uplifting and inspiring.
The story centers on Esther Mills (Stormi Demerson), a 30-something woman who still resides in the boarding house she entered in her late teens. Convinced she’s to remain alone, she’s driven by her talent as a seamstress to create sublime undergarments. House mother Mrs. Dickson (Yolanda Davis) encourages her to join the party downstairs but also has come to appreciate Esther’s company. She begins a correspondence with George (Brenton Jackson), a worker in the Panama Canal who charms Esther and convinces her to marry him. But she’s also built a special friendship with Mr. Marks (Blair Mitchell) who sells her fabric. Esther also confides in Mayme (Kayland Jordan) who works as a prostitute but feels unjudged by Esther’s kind eye.
Director Dennis Raveneau directed the show with a delicate hand that gave both the lead character and the show a quiet power. Demerson, who played the role before at WaterTower Theatre, clearly had a comfort level with her character that emanated a moving performance. Esther was hopeful and trusting but steadfast in her beliefs and Demerson played her with absolute certainty.
Although perhaps a love story, Intimate Apparel had several underlying tones that touched on class and race. Nottage’s work is subtle but certainly clear. Esther experiences all of them with her work for Mrs. Van Buren (Lindsay Hayward) designing her undergarments. Hayward played a tricky part that, while white, never exerted a rank over Esther, unless she needed to. When Hayward later expressed a deep desire, she was so sharp that it was an unexpected gasp for the audience.
As the letter-writing George and then ultimately Esther’s husband, Jackson was both charming and despicable. The chemistry between him and Demerson had all the right tension. But perhaps it was Demerson and Mitchell’s pairing that commanded attention. He played an Orthodox Jew committed to an arranged marriage that doesn’t allow him to touch another woman. The two’s romantic chemistry though was sweet and breathtaking.
Jordan’s Mayme had that self-protective bluster mixed with a sincere appreciation for her friendship. Although her character relied on sex, Jordan had a mysterious allure that bubbled underneath the airs she put on. Davis served up all the maternal vibes and was enchanting each time she was onstage.
Set designer Ellen Doyle Mizener crafted a multilevel set that always drew the eye to the attention. Without having to change much or ever feeling crowded, the set depicted Mr. Marks’ fabric store, Esther’s bedroom, Mayme’s place and Van Buren’s boudoir. Hank Baldree’s lighting was warm and truly enveloped the cast in a wonderful glow. Of note , was pianist and composer Thiago Nascimento’s affecting and delicate music for the show that helped tell this story of this remarkable woman.
Intimate Apparel left an impression that was both lingering and uplifting. The show runs through March 25.
Opening this week: