Stage Notes is a weekly aggregate post about theater, classical music and stage news, events, reviews and other pertinent information.
Opening this week:
The Women’s Chorus of Dallas: Divas, 8 p.m. Friday at Texas Discovery Gardens.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra: Parks Concerts series, 8:15 p.m. Tuesday at Campbell Green Park.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra: Parks Concerts series, 8:15 p.m. June 8 at Kidd Springs Park.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra: Parks Concerts series, 8:15 p.m. today at Exall Park.
A Long show by The Classics is worth every minute
For The Classics Theater Project to perform Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Stone Cottage sounded problematic at first. I mean, this was a show that almost prides itself on being way longer than the usual stage drama and that Addison space is not much more than a large room. Folding chairs and tight spaces could have made the experience live up to the title.
Upon the final bow, the show clocked in at about 3:45 hours but rarely felt like it due to the compelling cast and staging. Don’t get me wrong, there were the occasional fidgets, but with seats practically within the living space of the Tyrone family, the immersive aspect along with a dedicated cast delivered a heavyweight production that was engrossing from start to finish.
O’Neill’s semi-autobiographical opus looks at a day in the life of the Tyrones where patriarch James Sr. (Stephen Miller) navigates through his family’s dysfunction and his wife Mary’s (Mary-Margaret Pyeatt) addiction and mental descent. Arguments and accusations ensue between father and first son James Jr. (Joey Folsom) while son Edmund (Noah Riddle) dives into drink as he also comes to verbal blows with his father and brother while processing his own recent diagnosis of consumption. Cheryl Lowber plays the servant girl Cathleen who gives Mary a slight respite from loneliness.
At this second weekend performance, the cast had certainly found and cemented their characters and radiated a real-family-like air. They not only looked like family but with distinct nuance and chemistry, the four felt cosmically connected onstage. As the family’s fledgling anchor. Miller had the proper dad vibes and played Seniore with a mix of both pride as the head of the family (and for being a famous stage actor) with an undertone of anxiety as his character’s family unraveled before him. As the elder son who was essentially his father’s opposite, Folsom smartly mirrored Miller as the son who was more like his dad than he thought. His later scenes where Junior has had a drunken revelrous night, Folsom ran through a dynamic range of emotions while slurring his words. As he wrestled with Junior’s demons, Folsom delivered a startlingly raw performance.
Riddle’s Edmund served as the show’s emotional center and what a tour de force performance. Every actor had lots of dialogue to get through, but Riddle’s handling of his had such texture and pliancy. Opposite of Folsom, Riddle’s insobriety was quiet and pensive. His character sought peace instead of upheaval but would stand up for himself and his mother. There was a sincere heart behind Riddle’s performance.
Pyeatt hit all the notes as the morphine-addicted Mary. She was slight and delicate but played with enough distance to always feel like something was up with her character. As the show progressed, so did Mary. Pyeatt played the role without much physicality and instead approached her character mentally. The emotions and frustration inside Mary were clear as day through Pyeatt’s pained and resigned looks while also keeping up appearance as a strong mother — or rather as one in denial.
TCTP’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night was glorious work by the company. The love and pain of family was evident but so was the cast’s deep dive into these characters. The show runs through June 11.
Cruel Intentions moves to Uptown and slays
Cruel Intentions the 90s Musical is a co-production by Stage West and Uptown Players. I reviewed the show’s premiere here, but was curious to see how it played in the Kalita Humphreys Theater space. So glad to have done so, because the show exploded in that space on Thursday’s opening night.
The elements remained the same from Stage West, but for the production’s Uptown debut, the cast delivered an exciting show that filled the space with high energy. Also, the actors have already lived with their characters for a time already. Being fully inhabited, the cast sang, danced and acted with full confidence expanding the vigor of the show from its first run.
Director Garret Storms and music director Cody Dry’s work here was certainly no “Bittersweet Symphony.” The show remained sharp in its transition to the new stage. Kelsey Milborn’s choreography was a joy to revisit with the cast busting some classic 90s moves along with eye-catching modern choreo.
Storms had said that the show is the movie but really, it’s a love letter to that time of grunge, boy bands and salacious teen dramas. Stage West and Uptown Players’ production allows all of us to relive a time before smartphones and social media which now seems so unimaginable.
Cruel Intentions the 90s Musical runs through June 11.
Texas Ballet Theater names new AD
In a press release on Monday, TBT announced that its acting Artistic Director Tim O’Keefe will assume the role properly as of July 1. He joined the company in 2002 as the associate AD and assumed acting AD duties when AD Laureate Ben Stevenson, O.B.E. resigned in 2022. O’Keefe’s term as AD will run through 2028.
“The unanimous decision of the Board of Governors to appoint Tim O’Keefe Artistic Director to a five-year term reflects its confidence in his extraordinary artistry, vision, and leadership. We are extremely excited to collaborate with him to bring the highest level of ballet to stages across the Metroplex and beyond,” TBT Board of Governors Chairman Anne T. Bass said in the release.
O’Keefe began his professional ballet career at Houston Ballet in 1982, where he was promoted to Soloist in 1985 and named a Principal Dancer in 1995. In 1997, he originated the titular role in Stevenson’s Dracula. O’Keefe has choreographed for Houston Ballet’s Cullen Contemporary Series and Houston Ballet Academy, as well as for TBT with works such as Love Thing, Ragtime Dance, Violin Concerto in D, and the company’s annual Tutu Chic and Caren Koslow Fashion Shows.
He is also involved with Texas Ballet Theater School (TBTS), having taught classes and choreographed works such as Peter and the Wolf for Professional Division students. TBTS dancers present free matinees of O’Keefe’s Peter and the Wolf for elementary-aged students across North Texas.
“I am honored to become the next Artistic Director of Texas Ballet Theater,” O’Keefe expressed in the announcement. “I look forward to this company’s exciting future and continuing to share ballet, both classical and contemporary, with our North Texas community.”
As acting Artistic Director, O’Keefe curated the company’s upcoming 2023-24 season which opens in October with the aforementioned Dracula.
“We are thrilled to have Tim’s artistic vision as he moves into this new role,” Vanessa Logan, TBT Executive Director said. “His leadership reinforces Texas Ballet Theater’s mission of providing the highest caliber productions and education in our communities.”
Stolen Shakespeare Guild announces new season
Earlier this week, SSG in Fort Worth announced its 2023/24 season which will feature seven productions. The season will kick off this October. The Fort Worth company works to preserve “the timeless works of William Shakespeare and other celebrated playwrights and authors.”
The season includes (from SSG):
Stolen Shakespeare Guild’s Classics Festival, Volume 3 (Performed in repertory.)
Oct. 6-21: The Miser by Molière. This farce showcases the conflict between love and money through the escapades of multiple pairs of lovers and one hilarious, old miser.
Oct. 12-22: Antigone by Sophocles. This ancient tale with modern relevance explores themes of loyalty, destiny, and sacrifice in the face of oppression.
Dec. 1-17: Emma by Jane Austen. Spend an evening with Austen’s matchmaking heroine, Emma, and her romantic misadventures as she navigates finding love.
Shakespeare Festival (Performed in repertory.)
Feb. 16-March 9: The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Immerse yourself in the epic tale of two star crossed lovers from feuding families who dare risk everything for love for Valentine’s Day. With sword fights, poetry and tragedy, this timeless masterpiece continues to captivate audiences centuries after its creation.
Feb. 23-March 10: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. Get ready for a witty battle of the sexes as in one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies filled with romance, comedic hijinks and Shakespeare’s wittiest dialogue.
Classics Musicals Series
April 19-May 5: Guys and Dolls with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Considered by many to be the “perfect” American musical, this musical is set in 1950s New York City complete with gamblers, missionaries and chorus girls featuring songs like “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”
July 12-28: Kiss Me Kate written by Bella and Samuel Spewack with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. This classic musical comedy follows the behind-the-scenes antics of a theater company putting on a production of The Taming of the Shrew with a feuding divorced couple starring opposite each other.
Tickets and subscriptions are available now here.