Stage Notes is a weekly aggregate post about theater, classical music and stage news, events, reviews and other pertinent information.

The Dallas Opera announces 2022/2023 community initiatives

‘Rigoletto’ (Courtesy TDO)

TDO announced a series of community-based initiatives designed to welcome new audiences to the opera, both in-person and digitally.

“Whether it is live and in person at the Winspear, at home on a screen, or out in the neighborhood, we hope to make opera more accessible and approachable to the community,”Ian Derrer, Dallas Opera’s Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO said in a press release Thursday. “Crescendo is an exciting new initiative to attract the next generation of operagoers—and we hope livestreaming our annual People’s Choice Concert will achieve the same.”

Registration begins Thursday for the newly-established Crescendo, an under-45 group aimed at the 21-45 demographic from all backgrounds to network, socialize and learn more about opera as an approachable, fun and exciting outlet.

Membership is a mere $60 which includes two complimentary mainstage tickets, discounts, four pre-show mixers, one backstage tour for two and a special event invitation by the Hart Institute for Women Conductors.

Learn more about Crescendo here.

TDO’s People’s Choice Concert will serve as a prelude to its 65th anniversary season at the Winspear Opera House on Oct. 1. Featuring the cast of the opening production of Rigoletto, Music Director Emmanuel Villaume conducts the Dallas Opera Orchestra in a selection of opera hits—from Rigoletto to Carmen to La fille du régiment. Audience members can also vote for their favorite selection to hear again as the final encore.

A new aspect this year will feature a livestream of the concert.  Tickets are free and registration for the in-person concert and livestream will begin on Sept. 15 at 9 a.m.

And finally, OperaTruck returns for another season, bringing opera into the communities of North Texas on an 18-wheel flatbed, outdoor mobile stage. These free “pop-up” performances from The Dallas Opera’s education team feature a cast of rising stars in a family friendly 30-minute production of The Billy Goats Gruff. All performances at 2 p.m. with additional dates to be scheduled. The fall schedule includes:

Oct: 15: White Rock Center of Hope

Nov. 12: South Dallas Cultural Center

No. 19: Voice of Hope Ministries

April 22: Klyde Warren Park at the Muse Family Performance Pavilion without truck

April 29: Fair Park.

 Theatre Frisco opens ticket sales for new show

After a sold-out run of Something Rotten BEFORE IT OPENED, Theatre Frisco may be getting a head start for its next production. Ticket sales are now open for its November production Same Time, Next Year. Directed by M. Shane Hurst, TF describes the show as “a romantic comedy that focuses on two people, married to others, who meet for a romantic tryst once a year for two dozen years.” Sounds like the theatrical comedy of Scruff we’ve all been waiting for. The show runs Nov. 4-20 and tickets are available here.

REVIEW: TCTP’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

TCPT’s ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Courtesy photos)

Tennessee Williams words can still make an impact but it was The Classics Theatre Project’s current production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that struck to the heart and soul at the opening night performance last Friday in the Karol Omlor Studio Theatre at the Addison Theatre Centre. The black box theater’s intimate setting was an ideally effective stage for a voyeuristic look at the dysfunctional Pollitt family led by Big Daddy (Terry Martin). The Southern, whiskey-laden setting of the play was brought to life by dynamic staging and powerful acting.

The story centers on Brick (Joey Folsom) who is perpetually buzzed as he deals with not only his crutch for a broken ankle but also his own self-loathing and his disappointed wife Maggie (Olivia Cinquepalmi) who is on a perpetual vocal assault trying to get Brick out of his slump. They are convened at Big Daddy’s and Big Mama’s (Lulu Ward) estate for the former’s 65th birthday along with Brick’s brother Gooper (Bruce Witkowicz) and his pregnant wife Mae (Jenny Webb) and their three children (although they kept saying five). Tension is in abundance among all the characters but the centerpiece is the battle between Brick and Big Daddy where truths rise to the surface and the soul of each is put to the test.

We could expound on the themes of Tennessee Williams and Cat all day but really it’s the cast here that made the production a stellar theatrical experience. The story is certainly high drama and the cast was shooting on all cylinders in the show’s three acts. For a fairly full house, it was remarkably quiet undoubtedly due to the captivating performances.

Olivia Cinquepalmi opened the show with lengthy monologues acting off a quiet Folsom who’s understated drunk and disdainful demeanor spoke volumes without a word. The two were both masterful at acting with subtle looks but Cinquepalmi’s alluring performance was strong as a woman fighting for her marriage but with majesty and agency. Maggie is a strong-willed character who could easily be independent. Cinquepalmi lived up to that but revealed layers that were sympathetic to her charge of saving her relationship. This was the second of her one-two punch performances where she just came off of Theatre Three’s Virginia Woolf.

Physically, Brick was a shifty character. Folsom kept him moving with nuance as he went to the bar or fixed his pillow, but with all that, he delivered a remarkably still performance (before the yelling had to happen). Folsom fleshed out those demons inside Brick and then kept them quiet until he needed them later. When Brick has his multiple confrontations — mostly with Brick and Maggie — Folsom was a fiercely caged animal making a stand.

The dynamic between he and Martin was organic which made their crucial scene and tender moment both exciting and heartbreaking.

Big Daddy is tired of his family and Martin played up that exhaustion and frustration with brusque strokes. One might expect the role to be a grand, bombastic showcase, but Martin’s performance blended into the family setting which added a more realistic flair. He wasn’t short ever on dominating the stage, but he never left his castmates behind nor would they be left behind.

While not necessarly comic relief, Webb’s busybody Mae was a delightful contrast although her pregancy bump looked a bit more concerning than charming. The heart of the story though belonged to Big Mama and Ward brought a strong one to  her character. She was bubbly as the seemingly oblivious mother in the beginning until she shifted into a dark sadness that was ultimately empowered.

Director Susan Sargeant stewarded the cast into a believable family with skeletons and emotions galore, but never pushed for any overt melodrama. Tennessee took care of all that himself. Folsom also served as scenic designer with effective use of drapes that contained the all-in-one room for both the family and Maggie and Brick. Bruce Coleman served as costume designer where he straddled the lines of opulence and sensibility. The women’s costumes were flowy and gorgeous and Martin’s suit looked to be impeccably tailored.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof can be triggering with its plethora of themes around family such as repressed anger, frustration, disappointment along with navigating relationships and secret attractions. But this beautiful puzzle of a cast came together as a family — dysfunction and all — to remind that love is the foundation of a family but the cracks are hell.

The play runs through Sept. 11.

Season announcements

The new Elevator Project season will feature seven local arts organizations

ATTPAC announced the new season of The Elevator Project on Monday. The new season will feature the work of small and emerging arts groups performing on the Center’s campus in the Dallas Arts District. Performances this season will feature dance, visual arts, music and multimedia.

“We are thrilled to welcome this new season of The Elevator Project,” AT&T Performing Arts Center President and CEO Warren Tranquada said in a press release. “We think these are compelling local artists that our audiences will be excited to see. The Center is proud to shine a spotlight on this work.”

Selected artists for this season include Agora Artists, B. Moore Dance, The DASH Ensemble, Emerge Coalition, Inc., Jess Garland, mixtamotus and Therefore Art, Sound and Performance Group.

The season will be staged throughout the Center’s venues. Four will be staged in the sixth floor Studio Theatre in the Wyly Theatre, two in Potter Rose Performance Hall, the Wyly Theatre mainstage and one production staged in Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House.

The Center presents the Elevator Project with support from the City of Dallas Office of Arts & Culture, TACA and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

“This is a great example of the power of collaboration and how it can amplify unique and unheard artistic voices in the city’” Tranquada mentioned. “The spirit embodied by the Elevator Project is one of the primary reasons I chose to make Dallas my home.”

Elevator Project participants are chosen through a two-tier, peer-review process. The first tier is the five-member Advisory Review Panel. Their selections are then reviewed by the Executive Review Panel.

The Elevator Project’s upcoming season (from ATTPAC):

Feb. 2-4: Tear Down These Walls by Emerge Coalition, Inc. Tear Down These Walls brings traditional musical performance together with interactive set design. This meaningful project integrates the visual and performing arts, cultivating an immersive and elevated concert experience. Where there are walls, there is separation. In the Studio Theatre. 

May 4-6: Eldert Lofts by Agora Artists. The Eldert Lofts is an original movement-based work made in collaboration with local artists. The piece explores the stories of a community living in a small apartment building. Through a series of vignettes, the work reveals the intimacies and intricacies of relationships, exploring themes of connection, isolation, identity, and support as each character navigates what it means to be in community. In the Studio Theatre.

May 11-13: #Filtered by mixtamotus. Materializing out of mixatmotus’ obsession with the human-machine relationship and social media, #Filtered explores the age-old idiom “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” in a tongue-in-cheek journey of perfectionism between the digital and real self. In the Studio Theatre.

May 26-28: Luminescence by Jess Garland. Luminescence is a performance featuring Jess Garland on a laser-harp created by frequent collaborator Eric Trich. The performance shows the connection between light, sound and visual arts. In the Potter Rose Hall. 

June 1-3: Poems for Broken Screens by Therefore Art, Sound, and Performance Group. Poems for Broken Screens is a transmedia performance art project spanning multiple genres and disciplines. It is an adventurous expression of 21st century poetry, broadly interpreted: the poem as sound, as image, as movement, as media. This ambitious project is an avant-garde interpretation of poetic forms translated through technology and experimental performance.

July 21-23: Jazz-Soul-Funk-Classics by B. Moore Dance. The company presents a classic night of sultry jazz, soulful harmony, and the funkiest funk in the Dallas Arts District. Adding to her prolific repertoire of choreographic work, Artistic Director Bridget L. Moore focuses her eclectic, diverse and daring vision on music that rocks avant-garde audiences around the world. Get ready to take this immersive, kaleidoscopic trip through the cosmic universe! The dynamic dancers coupled with live music, vocalists, and visual artists from Dallas, will be a festive delight for the soul that you don’t want to miss.

July 28-30: The Power of Collision by The DASH Ensemble. The Power of Collision tells a familiar story that expresses how fragile life can be, how heavy things can get, and how exciting life can become when you weather the storm of both. The plot unfolds over the course of three acts, each one displaying a distinct use of contemporary movement and illusionism as innovative tools for storytelling.In the Studio Theatre. 

Kitchen Dog Theater announces its 32nd season

Playwright Crystal Jackson (Photo courtesy KDT)

The professional theater company announced its new slate of shows Thursday for its upcoming season. The 2022/23 season will feature three mainstage productions and its New Works Festival. Season tickets are available here now.

The season includes the following (from KDT):

Nov. 3-20: The Sound Inside. In this regional premiere of Adam Rapp’s play novelist Bella Baird has almost completely isolated herself from the world. But things change when she meets Christopher – a brilliant but enigmatic student in her creative writing class at Yale. As their friendship deepens, their lives and the stories they tell about themselves become intertwined in unpredictable ways, leading to a shocking request. Nominated for six 2020 Tony Awards, including Best Play. 

Feb. 16-March 5: Man Cave. In John J. Caswell’s play, Imaculada gathers her friends in a fortress-like mansion belonging to her absent employer, a wealthy Republican Congressman. Together the four women convert his luxurious basement man cave into their own spiritual war room and protective sanctuary from the violence of men, both real and supernatural. Regional premiere.

June 8-25: The Last Truck Stop (25th annual New Works Festival). Crystal Jackson’s play centers on a tenacious trucker-turned-truck-stop-owner and her poetic, gun-toting postal carrier debate staying or going when their desert town becomes a no-go zone. Should they trust the colorful stranger who arrives with a story they desperately want to believe? A journey into a not-so-distant dystopian future; with blistering heat, resilient heart and dreams of the open road. World premiere.

June 2023: Staged Reading Series (25th annual New Works Festival). Now in its 25th year, KDT’s Staged Reading Series will showcase some of the newest and most exciting playwrights working in contemporary theater today and will feature some of DFW’s most accomplished actors and directors. To commemorate this landmark Festival and further deepen our commitment to homegrown talent, KDT has created the TX Slot, which will spotlight a commissioned new work by a Texas playwright.

June 2023: PUP (Playwrights Under Progress) Fest (25th annual New Works Festival).The 2023 NWF will also feature six staged readings of jury-selected plays by DFW high school students with student actors and professional directors. PUP Fest is the culminating event of Dallas Playwriting Arts Collective (D-PAC), a partnership with Dallas ISD and Junior Players..

Show announcements

NTPA Rep opens its new season with Rent

NTPA Repertory Theatre will open its 2022-2023 season with Jonathan Larson’s Rent. The musical will open Sept. 9-18 at the Rodenbaugh Theatre at Willow Bend Center of the Arts.

NTPA Repertory Theatre Artistic Director and co-director of Rent, Daniel Dean Miranda said in a press relesae, “Rent was the first diverse show I ever listened to growing up. It felt like the perfect opportunity to showcase diverse talent in Plano, and so I wanted to partner with a female director.”

Miranda directs the show with Rachael Berros.

“This show is so important to the LGBTQ+ community,” says Rent Co-Director Rachael Berros, “I am excited to have an opportunity to dive into the material and find new and deeper meaning between the pages.”

Based on the opera La Bohème, Rent tells a story of a chosen family of friends living in the East Village of New York as struggling artists. The music, lyrics and book were written by Jonathan Larson who died the night before it opened. He did win three posthumous Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rent.

Tickets are available here.

Art Center Theatre to present Queen for a Day

ACT will host a weekend of comedy dedicated to the women of DFW comedy.  More than 20 performers are scheduled for the mini-fest.  The weekend will feature stand-up comedy, improv, storytelling, alternative comedy, vibrator races and more. Tickets are available here.

Audition Board

Four Weddings and an Elvis by Rover Dramawerks

Dates: Oct. 15, noon-2 p.m.; Oct. 16, 6-8 p.m.

Location: Reclamation Church, 901 Cross Bend Road

From Rover

Anything can happen in a wedding chapel in Las Vegas…and does! From a couple getting married by the King himself as revenge on their exes, to arrogant, aging stars tying the knot as a publicity stunt, to a ceremony that really needs to happen before the police arrive, to the nuptials of the wedding chapel owner herself, what happens in Vegas…is hilarious!

Roles available for 6 men, 4 women
Sandy – 40+, owner of a Las Vegas wedding chapel
Bev – 20s-30s, the angry bride – in love with the man she is marrying out of revenge
Stan – 20s-30s, the angry groom – dumped by his wife and determined to get revenge by marrying her new husband’s ex
John – 30s-40s, Elvis minister who works next door; can play Elvis at the drop of a hat
Vanessa – 50+, the older bride, fading actress, glamorous
Bryce – 50+, the older groom, fading actor, former pretty boy
Lou – 60s+, the minister – a bit off in some ways, former Elvis minister
Fiona – 30+, the tough ex-con bride, recently paroled and united with her postman pen pal love
Marvin – 30+, the gentle postman groom
Fist – any age, scary friend of Fiona, felon, punches first, asks questions later

Director is open to non-traditional casting of roles and seeks a diverse cast. All roles are available.

Other information:
– Sign up for an appointment time via Signup Genius, and access to a script will be made available to you. Be familiar with the play before coming to auditions.

– Be prepared to read scenes from the script.
– Please bring a resume and headshot.
– References may be required.
– Actors and technicians will receive stipends.
– Rehearsals will be in Plano beginning the week of December 5– tentative schedule is Sunday through Wednesday evenings (there will be no rehearsal 12/24-26 and 12/31-1/1).
– All conflicts must be noted at time of audition. (Not all actors will be called to all rehearsals.)
– Please visit Rover’s website or call (972) 849-0358 for more information.

Four Weddings and an Elvis will open Rover’s 23rd season, running Jan. 12-28, 2023 at the Cox Playhousein historic downtown Plano.

Opening this week:

Undermain Theatre: Lonesome Blues, today-Sept. 18, pictured.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra: Queens of Soul, Friday-Sunday at Bass Hall.

Artisan Center Theatre: Tuck Everlasting, Friday-Oct. 1

Upright Theatre: Next to Normal, Friday-Sept. 25.

Stage West Theatre: First Tuesday Jazz with the Johnny Case Trio, 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Broadway Dallas: Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, Tuesday-Sept. 18 at the Music Hall at Fair Park

Sammons Jazz: Mallet and Strings, 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sammons Center

WaterTower Theatre: The Bridges of Madison County in Concert, Wednesday-Sept. 11.

Ochre Theatre: St. Ella, Wednesday-Sept. 14

Firehouse Theater: Violet, Thursday-Sept. 24

Dallas Theater Center: Clue, Thursday-Sept 25 at the Wyly.

Theatre Three: Big Scary Animals, today-Sept. 25.

Onstage now:

The cast of Art Centre Theatre’s ‘Rumors.’ (Courtesy photo)

Allen Contemporary Theatre: Light Up the Sky, through Sunday.

Art Centre Theatre: Rumors, through Sunday, pictured.

Theatre Arlington: Biloxi Blues, through Sunday.

The Classics Theatre Project: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, through Sept. 11.

Hip Pocket Theatre: Savage Love, through Sept. 11.

Richardson Theater Center: The Hollow, through Sept. 11.

Stage West: Between Riverside and Crazy, through Sept. 11.

Circle Theatre: August Wilson’s Fences, through Sept 24.

–Rich Lopez