ATTPAC announces 2014-15 season

‘The Book of Mormon’ returns

The AT&T Performing Arts Center announced its five-show Broadway subscription series tonight, but it’s the sixth bonus show than many locals will be jazzed about.

In February 2015, the super-gay Book of Mormon returns to the Winspear Opera House for a two-week engagement. The Tony-winning juggernaut was a sell-out last summer, but its inclusion as a non-subscription show means those who didn’t get to see it — or who want to see it again — have a better chance of scoring tickets.

Of the five shows in the main series, two are returning favorites, and three are recent hits. Among the returning shows are The Phantom of the Opera (Aug. 6–24), which will play for nearly three weeks — the first time at the Winspear. The production is an all-new staging of the 20-year-old hit.

It will be followed after a four-month gap by Once (Dec. 17–28), the Tony Award winner for best musical and best score, based on the captivating movie.

Next up with be Mormon (Feb. 10–22, 2015), followed by Newsies (April 29–May 10), the Disney hit from Alan Menken; then another returning fave, Annie (June 23–July 5), which was recently revived on Broadway with Jane Lynch as the wicked Miss Hannigan. The season concludes with a new, already-announced production of a current hit, Motown The Musical (July 21–Aug. 9, 2015). That’s a full 12-months of shows.

The following season, the hit Matilda will be presented, though dates are not presently known.

Another major change is that the series will no longer be called the Lexus Broadway Series — as of the final show of this season, Beauty and the Beast, in April. No replacement presenting sponsor has been announced yet.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DBDT founder Ann Williams to retire

AnnWilliams_2008

Ann Williams

Ann Williams, the founder and creative director of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre — one of the resident companies that moved into the Wyly Theatre when the Arts District was relaunched four years ago — is stepping down at the end of this upcoming season, her 37th with the troupe.

Williams began her vision 40 years ago when she founded the Dallas Black Dance Academy as a training ground for young African-American dancers. The company followed several years later.

DBDT — one of whose members recently performed with Bruce Wood Dance Project — is in the middle of its summer intensive session. It’s 2013-14 season starts in October and runs through next May.

A national search committee is being organized to find a replacement for Williams.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Alec Baldwin Challenge” raises money for ATTPAC

Alec Baldwin knows how to put his money where his mouth is.

Last Friday, he appeared at the Winspear Opera House as part of the Brinker Speaker Series, where he talked for about 90 minutes about his films, TV, stage work and his life. And in the course of the evening, he made an unusual pledge: If people in the theater (and presumably, who read a blog post like this) would make a contribution to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, he’s match it, up to $25,000.

ATTPAC is thrilled, of course. “In 35 years of working in the performing arts I have never heard of something like this,” said ATTPAC CEO Mark Weinstein in a statement. The contribution should put the ATTPAC fund over $1 million for the first time.

If you want to contribute, you can do so online or by sending a contribution to ATTPAC to the attention “Alec Baldwin Challenge.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chris Heinbaugh has left the City Hall building

Chris Heinbaugh
Chris Heinbaugh

Wednesday was Chris Heinbaugh’s last day in the Dallas mayor’s office. And today is his first day as external affairs director for the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Once Heinbaugh’s life settles down a bit, we hope to talk to him in more detail about his nearly four years at City Hall — most of it as the openly gay chief of staff for Mayor Tom Leppert — and about his new position. But for now, here’s what Heinbaugh said in an email to members of the media on Wednesday:

As you probably know, today is my last day at Dallas City Hall. Tomorrow I begin work as the External Affairs Director for the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Downtown Dallas.

Looking back, it has been a great four years serving two Mayors, two Councils, surviving several brutal elections and challenging budgets, traveling across the world, etc., etc., etc. I have enjoyed every moment of it. It’s not often you get to fill a job that you enjoy, that stretches your talents, challenges you every day and leaves you feeling like you may have actually made a difference in the City where you live.

And for me, luck has struck again. You may know, when I was a reporter, I spent time covering the Arts and the AT&T Performing Arts in its early stages. These are things I’m very passionate about. So for me, this is a perfect job. And, since I’m also handling local press, I will still get the chance to work with many of you.

I have really enjoyed working with you all. Sometimes the stories were positive, sometimes I wanted them to go away! But I appreciate that we always kept it professional, never personal, and we tried to stay as accessible as possible.

I wish you all the best.

Thank you again. It’s been a pleasure. I hope to see you again soon, and please — come out and enjoy your Center!

—  John Wright

Chris Heinbaugh leaving mayor’s office to join AT&T Performing Arts Center

Chris Heinbaugh

Chris Heinbaugh has been named external affairs director at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Heinbaugh, an openly gay former TV reporter, served as Mayor Tom Leppert’s chief of staff for three years and has remained in the mayor’s office under Dwaine Caraway.

Heinbaugh will start his new job June 9.

“I’m ready to do something different,” Heinbaugh told Instant Tea this afternoon. “I’m very excited about it. I wanted to stay in Dallas, I like the arts, I like that center.”

Here’s what Heinbaugh said in an email to members of the media:

Hey folks,

Today I notified Ms. Suhm and Mayor Caraway that I am leaving my position in the Mayor’s office. Effective June 9, I will assume the position of External Affairs Director for the AT&T Performing Arts Center. I’ll be handling government relations and institutional press and working with the new CEO, Mark Weinstein to create exciting and inclusive new programs for the many diverse communities in Dallas and its North Texas neighbors. As you probably know from my days as a reporter, I have been a lover of the arts and passionate about the ATT PAC and the Dallas Arts District. As chief of staff, I’ve been fortunate to able to be a cheerleader for the Center both here at home and during our travels across the country and overseas. I am very excited that I will now be joining this tremendous team and its new CEO to continue moving the Center and the city forward.

I look forward to maintain a personal and professional strong relationship with you as well. We’ll chat more before I go, but I wanted to be sure to let you know. Please feel free to share this with your colleagues.

All the best,

Chris

—  John Wright