Illeana Kirven as Matron Mama Morton in the 25th anniversary tour of ‘Chicago.’ (Courtesy photos)

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

Stage Notes Calendar

Opening this week:

Theatre Three, Seagull, 2024Broadway at the Center: Chicago, today-Saturday at the Winspear

Dallas Symphony Orchestra: Brahms Requiem, today-Saturday at the Meyerson.

Firehouse Theatre: 9 to 5 the Musical, today-April 21

Theatre Three: The Seagull, today-April 28., pictured.

360 ALLSTARS, 8 p.m. Friday at the Eisemann Center

Over the Bridge Arts: First Draft Dance, Friday and Saturday at Sammons Center for the Arts

Fort Worth Opera, La Boheme, Friday and Sunday at Bass Hall

Bluegrass Heritage Festival, Friday-Sunday at the DoubleTree Galleria.

Verdigris Ensemble: Mis-Lead, Friday-Sunday at the Kalita Humphreys Theater.

Art Centre Theatre: Southern Fried Funeral, Friday-April 14.

Runway Theatre: Big Fish, Friday-April 21

Theatre Coppell: Charlotte’s Web, Friday-April 21.

Theatre Denton: Dreamgirls, Friday-April 21

Upright Theatre: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), Friday-April 27

Amphibian Stage: Marie and Rosetta, Friday-April 28.

Auriga Productions: Hamlet, Friday-April 28 at Amy’s Studio of Performing Arts.

Dallas Theater Center: Dial M for Murder, Friday-April 28

Bruce Wood Dance: 14th anniversary Performance and Gala, Saturday at Moody Performance Hall.

Cara Mia Theatre: Diosa, Saturday-April 21 at the Latino Cultural Center

Dallas Winds: Premieres and Farewells, Tuesday at the Meyerson.

Broadway Dallas: Girl from the North Country, Tuesday-April 21.

Onstage now:

Richardson Theatre Centre, 2024, Things My Mother Taught MeCasa Manana: The Music of Harry Chapin and Jim Croce, through Friday.

Lonesome Blues, through Sunday at Club Dada.

Lyric Stage: Sweeney Todd, through Sunday at the Lyric Studio Space.

Richardson Theatre Centre: Things My Mother Taught Me, through Sunday.

Rockwall Community Playhouse: Fiddler on the Roof, through Sunday.

Onstage in Bedford: Butterflies are Free, through Sunday.

The Classics Theatre Project: The Glass Menagerie, through April 13 at the Stone Cottage.

Theatre Arlington: Alice In Wonderlandthrough April 14.

Second Thought Theatre: Heroes of the Fourth Turning, through April 14.

Jubilee Theater: The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, Friday-May 5.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre: Sherlock Holmes the Melodrama, Friday-May 11.

UPDATE: Dallas Theater Center announces 2024/25 season

The news came Friday morning from DTC about its new season. The season includes six shows ranging from traditional to big Broadway blockbusters. The season will open this October. Subscriptions are available now by clicking here.

Shows include (from DTC):

Oct. 11-Nov. 3: Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors. This laugh-out-loud, gender-bending romp is what happens when you take Bram Stoker’s legendary story and put it into a blender with Mel Brooks, Monty Python, and The 39 Steps!  This “fang-tastic” comedy is full of clever wordplay and quick-change antics. Performances held at the Kalita Humphreys Theater.

Nov. 29-Dec. 28: A Christmas Carol. Three spirits have come to visit the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and take him on a fantastic journey through Christmases past, present, and future. Brimming with joyful songs, magical spirits, and holiday cheer, this holiday classic embodies a story of joy, redemption, and the spirit of Christmas. Performances held at the Wyly Theatre.

Jan. 31-Feb. 23: Shane. One of the greatest Westerns of all time finds new life on the stage! A mysterious ex-gunfighter, Shane is a man with a dangerous past. Yet, he finds kinship with the Starrett family and helps protect their Wyoming farm. Performances held at the Kalita Humphreys Theater.

Feb. 27-March 16: Primary Trust. For 15 years, Kenneth’s life in a small town in upstate New York has been the same.  When this life is disrupted, he is forced out of his comfort zone to face a world he has long avoided in this a touching story of new beginnings, old friends, and finding the courage to see the world for the first time. Performances held at Bryant Hall. 

March 29-April 27: Waitress. Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker, is stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage and facing an unexpected pregnancy. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s handsome new doctor offer her a tempting recipe for happiness. Features music and lyrics by Grammy Award-winner Sara Bareilles.. Performances held at the Wyly Theatre.

June 13-July 20: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The classic Broadway musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, based on the Bible’s Book of Genesis, tells the journey of Joseph, son of Jacob, his twelve brothers, and his coat of many colors. Performances held at the Wyly Theatre. 

Stage Notes Exclusive: Texas native Illeana Kirven found insp in Jinkx Monsoon for her Mama Morton in Chicago

Chicago, 2024, Illeana Kirven

Continuing its Broadway series, AT&T Performing Arts Center opens Chicago on Thursday night through Saturday at the Winspear Opera House. Celebrating 25 years since its landmark Broadway revival, the award-winning show is a captivating experience of song and dance. Illeana “Illy” Kirven, a native Texan, is enjoying the ride as Mama Morton – a role she found lots of inspiration in. 

As Matron Mama Morton, Kirven runs the block where all of Chicago’s criminal ladies end up. By all accounts, the role often serves up big lesbian energy. Kirven said she had to do her research to get a clearer picture of who Morton really is. 

“It’s something because in the script, Billy Flynn will refer to her as ‘they’ quite often and then he’ll call her ‘Diesel’ and at one time, ‘Butch,’ so who really knows what she is,” Kirven said. 

In fact, in her research, Kirven found a curious gem as well. 

“The script does refer to her as ‘Mrs.,’ which made me wonder, is there a husband, is there a wife – all the things,” she said. “It’s been something to dive deep into Mama.”

Ultimately, Mama is what Kirven creates her to be. And she is serving glam and strength. 

“The Mama I’ve created uses her power and clout to get her way, but she’s glam and gorgeous. She knows what she wants and she gotta make her dollar,” Kirven said. 

Kirven also said she’s blended other versions of the character into her own. Every other Mama Morton she’s been able to see, she takes a part of whether it’s other stage performances or even Queen Latifah’s version in the movie. 

That would include Jinkx Monsoon’s recent run as Mama Morton on Broadway. 

“Oh my god, she was just wonderful. All that beauty! But it was also Jinkx doing Jinkx,” she said. “It was a whole other level of Mama and I thought it was glorious. Her timing was perfection and yes, I did pull from her as well.”

It doesn’t hurt that Kirven is a Drag Race fan as well. 

What Kirven does like about her own Mama is that she thinks they would be good friends. She likes her even though Mama is always conniving and bribing for her pocket book. 

“I wouldn’t think I’d like her but it’s hard not to,” she said. “My Mama has a conscience and she wants well for the girls – just after she gets paid.”

Being on a major tour, it’s a slight surprise that the Tyler native is based right out of her hometown. She doesn’t do much performing in Texas. It’s usually in the hub cities like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. But if Kirven had her druthers…

“I would do more theater here. I’ve guest directed at Tyler City Theater, but I would love to do more in Dallas and Fort Worth,” she said. “I do love touring, but it is nice to be home.”

Especially when she knows her family will be at the show. 

For tickets, visit

Dallas Symphony Orchestra announces 2024 Women in Classical Music Symposium

JoAnn Falletta (Courtesy photo)

On Tuesday, the DSO announced programming for the sixth annual Women in Classical Music Symposium this fall. The event will be held at the Meyerson on Nov. 3-6. The event will feature administrators, educators, composers, musicians and conductors from around the world to gather in  conversations, panels and discussions alike. Tickets will go on sale early summer.

“I am incredibly proud of the impact that the Women in Classical Music Symposium has had over the past five years. The Symposium provides a platform for women in our industry to share their experiences and perspectives, with the goal of continuing to strive for positive change,” Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony said in the press release. “We have put together a fantastic group of panelists and topics for the 2024 Symposium, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to the Meyerson for four days of energizing and inspirational discussion among friends and colleagues.”

The 2024 Symposium kicks off with a concert by the DSO highting women in classical music. Conductor Anu Tali will lead in performances of contemporary Estonian composer Alisson Kruusmaa’s “Five Arabesques” and Amy Beach’s Piano Concerto, with Bravo! Vail Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott taking center stage. The concert is presented by Chanel, the Presenting Sponsor of the 2024 Women in Classical Music Concert Series.

Programming will focus on relevant topics such as the implementation of AI in music; the experiences of women in administrative and artistic leadership positions; how industry leaders are programming concerts with the future in mind; exploration of the music of indigenous peoples; how the classical music can challenge genre boundaries and promote diversification; as well as discussions specific to women conductors and women in artist management roles.

The 2024 Symposium will welcome acclaimed panelists, including Katie Backus (Concert Artists Guild), Christina Baker (Young Concert Artists), Katherine Carleton (Orchestra Canada), Michelle di Russo (Fort Worth Symphony), JoAnn Falletta, Katie McGuiness (DSO), Melissa Ngan (American Composers Orchestra), Kim Noltemy, Shira Samuels-Shragg (DSO), Mark Williams (Toronto Symphony) and Susan Zhang (Concert Truck).

The Award of Excellence recognizes a woman who has paved the way for others and is investing in the future of the industry. This year’s honoree is multi-GRAMMY-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta, who will return to Dallas in March 2025 to lead the DSO and the Dallas Symphony Chorus in concerts during the American Choral Director’s Conference.

Falletta serves as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director Laureate of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center, and Conductor Laureate of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and  has been championing women conductors, composers and musicians for decades.

The Career Advancement Award will recognize Fernanda Lastra who has served as assistant conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra since 2022 under Falletta’s mentorship. She is a passionate advocate for Latin American composers – especially those from her native Argentina.

For more information, click here.

The Dallas Opera names new chorus director and head of music

Paolo Bressan, The Dallas Opera, 2024

Paolo Bressan of The Dallas Opera. (Photos by Karen Almond)

After an international search, TDO announced Thursday morning Paolo Bressan will be its next Chorus Director and Head of Music beginning with the 2024/2025 Season. Bressan has been an associate conductor with TDO since 2015. This season, he conducted the family performances of Pépito and the National Vocal Competition and served as assistant conductor for this season’s ToscaThe Diving Bell and the ButterflyElektra, and the People’s Choice Concert. The Italian conductor has also frequently participated as a master teacher for the Hart Institute for Women Conductors.

“Maestro Bressan’s unique and well-established relationship with The Dallas Opera made him an exciting and logical choice,” Ian Derrer, TDO’s Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO said in the announcement. “He is internationally respected for his work with singers, musical pedigree, and vast operatic knowledge, not to mention his proficiency in several languages. We are proud to welcome him to our family full-time and, in particular, to the role of Chorus Director where he follows in the footsteps of Alexander Rom, Donald Palumbo, and Roberto Benaglio.”

Bressan will usher in a new era as The Dallas Opera’s Chorus Director and will serve as Head of Music, working closely with Ian Derrer, Maestro Emmanuel Villaume, and the Operations department as a critical team member for artistic planning, overseeing the seasonal music staff, and working with visiting conductors and guest directors.

“It is a great honor for me to take on this role at The Dallas Opera,” said Bressan. “I am grateful to the company for having entrusted me with such an important position. After nine seasons in Dallas as an associate and assistant conductor, this feels to me like a natural next step. I am thrilled to start this new chapter in my life, coming to Dallas with my family and being a part of an exciting, vibrant, and inspiring arts community, where I hope to carry and nurture a great musical tradition.”

“Paolo is an exceptionally gifted and complete musician,” said Emmanuel Villaume, TDO’s Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director. “We have been working together for more than 20 years and he never fails to impress me with his brilliance and passion for music.”

Bressan succeeds Alexander Rom, the renowned and longest serving chorus master in the history of The Dallas Opera.

–Rich Lopez