The grand tour

Posted on 08 Jan 2009 at 5:00pm
By JEF TINGLEY | Contributing Writer

The first group to perform in all of Dallas’ new Arts District venues will be a gay men’s chorus. How cool is that?


VANTAGE POINT Turtle Creek Chorale artistic director Jonathan Palant stands at a crossroads where parts of the Winspear (canopy, left), the Wyly (rear) and the Meyerson (right) are all visible. The chorale will perform in all three spaces this season. Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice

It’s almost as if you can hear the floorboards in the Arts District’s new Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre and Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House squeaking "be gentle, it’s our first time" in anticipation of the arrival of the Turtle Creek Chorale and its upcoming concerts.

And while the 30-year-old gay chorus will technically be taking the stage of the Winspear on Oct. 18 for a 30-minute stint as part of a day of public performances, it’s really their December holiday performance, then May’s Broadway-inspired show, that will continue the group’s longstanding tradition of baptizing every new arts venue in Dallas — and give the TCC the honor of being the first group to perform in every venue in the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

"We have prided ourselves in performing in every new hall in North Texas," says Jonathan Palant, who begins his third season as the gay chorus’ artistic director.

"We played the Meyerson [Symphony Center] since its opening, the Eisemann Center, Bass Hall. It just seemed logical to make the Winspear and the Wyly our guest artists of the year."

Prior seasons under Palant’s auspices have featured celebrities (Joan Rivers, Hairspray’s Nikki Blonsky) sharing the stage with the TCC. This year, though, "we are focusing on these two buildings. These are the stars of Dallas right now."

Palant brags that a TCC subscription is the only full-season ticket in town that can get patrons into every building in the newly expanded Performing Arts Center. And sales are reflecting it. With the season not even started, the group is already 94 percent sold in available subscriptions (though individual tickets are more readily available).

Appropriately themed All The World’s OUR Stage, the Chorale’s 2009–10 season opens Oct. 19 with a production of Mozart’s Requiem at the Meyerson Symphony Center, a familiar venue for the group. Then in December, the Chorale moves into virgin territory taking its popular holiday show to trod the boards of the 2,300-seat Winspear Opera House.

In addition to having the 85-piece orchestra and conductor in the pit (they’re usually on stage with the singers), that concert will mark the first time the TCC will have a fly space and wings to work with. "I don’t think it will change the face," Palant says, "but it will allow us to add to the bells and whistles of what it is we do."

This year’s holiday show mixes and matches elements from The Wizard of Oz and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer with holiday song classics. "There’s even a Michael Jackson tribute in the show — which may or may not sell a ticket!" adds Palant.

In March, it’s back to the Meyerson for a campy opera send up including Viking-horned, big-bosomed sopranos and an "anvil chorus" of half-naked men. For May’s show, the TCC once again tackles a new stage with its show tune-filled concert in the 600-seat Wyly Theatre. The show will be directed by Michael Serrecchia.

"We’re doing a Broadway show in a Broadway house and we needed a Broadway director," says Palant. "And Michael comes with years of wisdom beyond his years."

So whether the venue is brand new or a tried-and-true favorite, The TCC is known for one thing: pushing the limits.

"We like to say the rules were created after we left," says Palant with a smirk telling a story of how the chorale was the first — and last — group to use pyrotechnics in the Meyerson for a small patriotic show. And while the culpability of the resulting nickel-size burn mark on the stage is still in question, "our mark is there — we have baptized it."


The TCC’s Arts District Venue Tour

Here’s the schedule of Turtle Creek Chorale performances that will take them from their usual home in the Meyerson to the new Winspear and Wyly theaters.
October 18    Free Dallas Arts District-wide festival, performance at Winspear Opera House
October 19    Mozart’s Requiem, Meyerson Symphony Center
December 11-13 
  A Very Special Holiday Special, Winspear Opera House
March 28, 31   Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Meyerson Symphony Center
May 26-29    On Off Broadway, Wyly Theatre

This article appeared in Applause, The Dallas Voice Visual & Performing Arts Guide 2009 print edition October 9, 2009.

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