‘Rocky Horror’ casting call changes

Two weeks ago, I posted a notice about an open casting call for Dallas Theater Center‘s upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Show (they are looking for engaging side-show-like acts). Well, some of the information has changed. Due to a schedule conflict with director/choreographer Joel Ferrell, the event will now be held at the Wyly Theatre (instead of the Rose Room) and the time has been compressed. The correct information is below:

Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St.

Saturday, July 26

Check-in at 2:45 p.m., call from 3–4 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC is looking for gender-benders for ‘Rocky Horror’

lipeJoel Ferrell, who will be directing the Dallas Theater Center’s upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Show, needs your help.

Part of Ferrell’s concept for the show calls for “living set decorations” — gender-benders, elaborately tattooed and/or surprisingly pierced men and women, or those with special skills (think circus sideshows: sword swallowers, snake charmers and the like) to add atmosphere to the show. You don’t need to know how to sing, dance or act — just be fun to look at. (And, FYI, there’s no remuneration involved, it’s just for your own pleasure.)

To track down those who’ll fit, the DTC is hosting an open casting call at the Rose Room on Saturday, July 26. There are 50 audition slots open, which you can apply for my email to Laura.Colleluori@DallasTheaterCenter.org. Just send her your name, age, phone number and brief description of your talent. Auditions will start at 3:30 p.m. The production of Rocky runs Sept. 11–Oct. 19, and those selected will be expected to appear at about half of the performances.

Good luck!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Bruce Wood, my friend, is dead at 53

Bruce Wood

Many obits are respectful recitations of the cost of a life to the community, but the passing last night of my friend, Bruce Wood, at age 53, is far, far more personal. Bruce — whose next performance with the Bruce Wood Dance Project, Touch, is scheduled for June 12–13 at City Performance Hall — was the first man who got me excited about the art of dance.

He was a gifted dancer in his own right. A Fort Worth native, he studied under the tutelage of George Ballanchine from age 16, and rose to principal dancer with New York City Ballet. In 1996, he founded the Bruce Wood Dance Co., and soon thereafter is when I caught the dance bug. His works were remarkable things, full of energy and wit and breathtaking style. He once said every performance should make an audience laugh, cry and gasp. I, for one, did that, every time.

BRucebackarchThe Bruce Wood Dance Co. closed operation in 2007, but that wasn’t the end for Bruce. He went on to direct theater — in fact, he was scheduled to choreograph a show with Kevin Moriarty directing at the Dallas Theater Center next season, a sports-themed play called Colossal — and was essential to A Gathering, the two-time celebration of life and fundraiser put on by the arts groups in Dallas.

“Honestly, it’s hard for me to put my emotions into words right now,” Moriarty told me. “Like everyone else in our artistic community, I’m devastated by this loss.”

In 2010, he regrouped, forming the Bruce Wood Dance Project, which did several shows per year, thanks in large part to his producer Gayle Halperin, one of Dallas’ most respected dance patrons. That is the company set to perform Touch. The loss to them is unfathomable, as it is to me.

“Our creative work during the pre-production process [on Colossal] was typical of how he approached all of his work: Passionate, intense, smart and filled with invention and deep emotion,” Moriarty said. “Our conversations about football, dance, masculinity and sexuality, which are all theses in the production we were creating, were personal and deeply impactful for me. As a dance fan, I was personally drawn to his work on many levels — both because of the depth of its feeling and themes and because of its formal inventiveness, clarity and grace. I just can’t believe he’s gone.”

“Bruce had a special gift for pulling the best out of the people he worked with,” John Ahrens, his long-time costume designer, told me this afternoon. “Things we never thought we could do, we did for him. I knew every day I had with him was a gift.”

Bruce himself was the gift. He could be grumpy and demanding, but his charisma made it so you didn’t care. He smiled an awful lot for someone as intense as he was, who created works of such beauty.

The last time I saw Bruce in person was the opening night of Fortress of Solitude at the DTC. It was always so great just bumping into him. I’ll miss those moments as much as I will miss his art.

He passed away from pneumonia and heart failure owing to a depleted immune system Wednesday night. The onset was sudden.  No funeral plans have been announced.

Here are some stories we’ve run in recent years ago Bruce. They mean so much more to me now.

On their toes

Get Bruce Wood

Stepping up

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC announces 2014-15 season

DTC-DTE Kurt Rhoads and June Squibb - by Brandon Thibodeaux

Oscar nominee June Squibb, last seen at the DTC in Horton Foote’s ‘Surviving the Estate,’ will return to play the lead in ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’

Dracula won’t be swooping into the Wyly Theatre any time soon, but Bruce Wood will make his debut with the Dallas Theater Center, and a recent Oscar nominee will make her return along with a Speedo-clad muscle man, the company’s artistic director, Kevin Moriarty, revealed this morning. The formal announcement will take place later today.

To kick off the season, audiences will get a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania taking a jump to the left in the season opening, The Rocky Horror Show. Joel Ferrell will direct the gender-bending musical at the Wyly.

Ferrell steps immediately into the next production, which will take over the Kalita Humphreys space. Driving Miss Daisy will star June Squibb — who was just nominated for an Oscar for Nebraska — as a prickly Southern lady and her relationship with her African-American chauffeur.

Bruce Wood, the choreographer and occasional stage director, will make his DTC debut with Colossal, a world premiere play-with-dancing about football. It continues the DTC’s preoccupation with sports onstage (baseball with Back Back Back, basketball with Give It Up aka Lysistra Jones, pro wrestling with The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity).

“Consistent with [DTC's mission of producing shows that reflect the community], this show is about people with disabilities — the man character is in a wheelchair,” Moriarty says. “The play will feature full-contact drills, with music provided by a drumline.” And the Wyly will be transformed into a football stadium, complete with bleachers and popcorn.

The musical Stagger Lee, written by DTC writer-in-residence Will Power and developed at DTC for several years, will have its main-stage debut.

“My first year here, I was approached by SMU, who wanted to present the Meadows Prize to a theater artist,” Moriarty says. “I gave them a list of about 10 names to discuss, and [when we decided on Will Power], SMU commissioned him to write a play as part of DTC’s season. The play is a mythical investigation of the African-American experience in the 20th century.

Also scheduled in a regional premiere, The Book Club Play, a romantic comedy about, naturally, a book club.

“Christie Vela runs the perfect book club, but then a documentary film crew comes to shoot it just as a new member joins, and mayhem ensues,” Moriarty says. It will be directed by Meredith McDonough — one of three women directing shows at the DTC this season.

rsDTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty_Photo by Tadd Myers

Kevin Moriarty

There are several significant developments this season. In addition to producing a record nine shows (the current season was only seven shows), Moriarty is launching a five-year “classical theater” initiative, which will mount at least two plays each season written before 1900. The two presented this year couldn’t be more different — at least on the surface: The 17th century farce School for Wives and the ancient Greek tragedy Medea. But Moriarty sees a theme.

“Both are plays about women denied power or justice, who eventually are victorious,” Moriarty says. The plays will be presented in repertory at the Kalita, with the Moliere comedy performed upstairs and Euripides’ masterpiece in the long-overlooked basement space, once known as Down Center Stage. Sally Vahle will play Medea, but will also take a role in School.

“It will be true rep — we’ll rehearse eight hours a day, the first four of one show, then lunch, then the next four with the other,”says Moriarty, who will direct both.

A Christmas Carol — this season performed at the Wyly for the first time, and included as part of the regular season subscription — becomes a bonus show again. The version performed this past December, written and directed by Moriarty, will be revived, though Lee Trull will direct and Jeremy Dumont will serve as choreographer.

Another development is that the traditional family-friendly summer won’t take place — or rather, hasn’t been programmed yet. The final show of the season will be a stage version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. But that production will conclude before Memorial Day of 2015, meaning the summer of 2015 may still have a musical in it … but it’ll be part of the 2015-16 season instead.

The Dracula Cycle,  set to open last year, was delayed when the playwright, gay scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, become entrenched in commitments in theater (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), television (Glee) and film (the Carrie remake). It was expected to return next season but has officially be taken off the books.

Here’s the complete schedule of shows and production dates:

The Rocky Horror Show at the Wyly, Sept. 11–Oct. 19.

Driving Miss Daisy at the Kalita, Oct. 16–Nov. 16.

A Christmas Carol at the Wyly, Nov. 25–Dec. 27.

The Book Club Play at the Kalita, Jan. 1, 2015 –Feb. 1.

Stagger Lee at the Wyly, Jan. 21–Feb. 15.

School for Wives and Medea at the Kalita, Feb. 19–March 29

Collosal at Wyly, April 2–May 3.

Sense and Sensibility at the Kalita, April 23–May 24.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC donates nearly $60K to NTFB

ACC NTFB Check Presentation - Kris Martin, Kieran Connolly - by Dana Driensky

Former Dallas Voice staffer Kris Martin, as representative for the NTFB, collects a check from Scrooge (actor Kieran Connolly) at the final performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Wyly Theatre. Additional donations at that performance raised the total donation to nearly $58,000.

For six Christmases, the Dallas Theater Center has collected canned food and cash from patrons at its annual production of A Christmas Carol, and this year was an especially good one. For its first time since returning to the Arts District — and its first time in the Wyly Theatre — the DTC managed 934 pounds of nonperishable goods (nearly twice the amount taken in last year at the Kalita Humphreys) and raised $57,993.81 in cash donations (above the average for prior years). That brings the total monetary donations — donated to the North Texas Food Bank — to $297,912.16 since 2008. Each dollar accounts for about three meals donated to the hungry across the Metroplex.

We’re big fans of the NTFB here at the Voice — I decorate a cake every year for charity, and the NTFB is a feeder donator the Resource Center’s food pantry — so we’re happy to see how generous people are. But the need continues beyond Christmas; you can donate time, food or money here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Collin Duwe wants to be a rich world traveler and you can help him

CollinDuweCollin Duwe wants the best job in the world. And we kinda want him to have it.

Actually, we wouldn’t mind having the job, either. This is it: Become a world traveler at a hefty salary ($100k) and spend a year reporting on destinations from Atlanta to the Maldives for the website Jauntaroo.com. Pretty sweet. (GayTravel.com has had a similar contest, with the GayTravel Guru, which I’ve reported on.)

Now, we’d all want a job like that, but Collin is actually close: He’s one of 30 finalists worldwide, and he needs people to vote for him. We certainly don’t mind throwing a word out for him. Collin is part of North Texas’ LGBT community, and works at Dallas Theater Center right now, so the theater community probably knows him, too. And I think DTC could manage if he decided to travel internationally for a year.

If you’re so inclined, all you have to do to help Collin is click here and vote. I’m sure he’d appreciate it — maybe he’ll even send you a postcard of thanks from exotic Fort Worth — that’s one of the stops on his tour.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DFW Theater Critics Forum selects best of season in local theater

The Chairs5

Kitchen Dog’s ‘The Chairs’ was a big winner from the theater critics, winning for actors Raphael Parry and Rhonda Boutte, director Tim Johnson and set designer Scott Osbourne.

Among the highlights: As always, there were tons of gay winners (hey, it’s theater), including Tim Johnson (for The Chairs at Kitchen Dog, which had a stellar season), and Regan Adair (In a Forest Dark and Deep and Joel Ferrell (Gruesome Playground Injuries), both at Second Thought, which also had a standout season. Knock Me a Kiss, a play with a gay theme over at Jubilee, was singled out for Barbara Wood’s performance.

The group also recognized two of last years best performances: Marianne Galloway in Children of a Lesser God and Theatre 3 founder Jac Alder in a rare performance as Sigmund Freud in Freud’s Last Session. Tween Kennedy Waterman was also recognized for her role in Daffodil Girls. Season’s best show, On the Eve, was a runaway hit with five awards.

Two Fort Worth productions of The Taming of the Shrew received lots of kudos, including one at Stage West; its founder, Jerry Russell, died last week, and was given a special citation for his years of artistry.

The participating critics — me, Elaine Liner (Dallas Observer), Mark Lowry (TheaterJones.com), Lawson Taitte (Dallas Morning News), M. Lance Lusk and Liz Johnstone (D Magazine), Lauren Smart and Kris Noteboom (TheaterJones.com), Martha Heimberg (Turtle Creek News and TheaterJones.com), Alexandra Bonifield (Critical Rants), Lindsey Wilson (CultureMap Dallas) and Punch Shaw (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) — selected the following winners (after the break). Congrats.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cedric Neal wins Helen Hayes Award

Liz Cedric Terry

We miss Cedric Neal in Dallas, but we’re also glad he’s met with such success. The former member of Dallas Theater Center‘s resident acting company (pictured above with fellow company member Liz Mikel and WaterTower artistic director Terry Martin) first went on to a role on Broadway in Porgy and Bess (he even went on a few times as Sportin’ Life, a role he understudied) and has continued to work. And it’s paid off.

Last week, Neal won a Helen Hayes Award, presented for excellence in theater in the Washington, D.C., area. He won best featured actor in a musical for his role in the Signature Theatre’s production of Dreamgirls, beating such competition as former Tony Award nominee Robert Cuccioli who appeared in 1776. Congrats, Cedric!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: DTC’s 2013-14 schedule

rsDTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty_Photo by Tadd MyersThe Dallas Theater Center’s Kevin Moriarty has said since he started there as artistic director that his goal was to provide every audience an experience in the “city’s theater.” The diversity evident in the coming season reflects that. (Three gay playwrights are represented next season.)

The seven-production season is divided into both “classic” (four plays) and “contemporary” (three plays) series — two musicals, a holiday tradition, a famous play and its unofficial sequel among them.

The “big” news is the first locally-produced professional production of Les Miserables, which closes the season in the summer of 2014. Before then, however, are six more shows.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC donates more than $63K to NTFB

For the fifth year, the Dallas Theater Center was not a Scrooge during its production of A Christmas Carol, raising $63,186.72 from patron donations to donate to the North Texas Food Bank. (That number reflects amounts donated after the check presentation above.) That raises the total amount donated by audiences to nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Every dollar provides about three meals to a North Texan in need. Audiences also donated about 568 pounds of non-perishable food items.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones