DTC Drives a Bard Bargain for The Tempest

Dallas Theater Center is cutting tickets prices for its season-opening production of Shakespeare's The Tempest. All main floor and lower balcony seats in the 600-seat Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre will be uniformly priced at $25. Top balcony, as always, is $15. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m., Thursday, August 18, through the ATTPAC box office, 214-880-0202 and through Ticketmaster.

The bargain pricing goes for all performances starting September 10. Tickets are even cheaper for the show's September 9 (Friday) preview. That's pay-what-you-can night, when you can see the play for as little as a penny. (But, come on, don't be that much of a piker. At least toss in a fiver.) Official opening night is Friday, September 16.

"I'm on a mission to sell out Shakespeare at DTC," says company marketing chief Wayne Goodwin. "This is a big move for us. Let's blow this out."

Artistic director Kevin Moriarty, who's directing The Tempest, has started each of the past two seasons with Shakespeare as he continues his cycle of doing one play in each category of the Bard's work. A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2009 was the comedy; Henry IV last fall was the historical; The Tempest is the romance; next year comes the tragedy.

The real tragedy at last year's Henry IV was the large number of empty seats, something Goodwin says he's determined won't happen with The Tempest. DTC has had a run of box office hits over the past few months, with full houses for Arsenic & Old Lace (back at DTC's old home, Kalita Humphreys Theater), Cabaret and The Wiz, which played to 99 percent capacity.

For Cabaret, the theater employed "dynamic pricing," charging as much as $200 a seat. The highest priced tickets sold out, says Goodwin.

But there's typically less interest in Shakespeare, thus the move to top out at $25.

This Tempest will be set in present day, with contemporary clothes. In case you've forgotten, it's the play about a shipwrecked crew (or in this production, a plane crash like Lost) and an exiled duke, his pretty virgin daughter and the monsters and sprites they live with on a desert island. The big-budget production stars resident company members Chamblee Ferguson (as Prospero), Abbey Siegworth (Miranda), Steven Walters (Ferdinand) and New York actor Hunter Ryan Herdlicka (Ariel). Herdlicka, by the way, is a graduate of Plano West High School and a product of many summers studying with Dallas Summer Musicals' programs for youth. Scenery and costumes are being designed by recent Tony nominee Beowulf Boritt.

The Tempest runs from September 9 to October 9 at the Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora Street in the Arts District. Buy tickets online starting August 18 at ticketmaster.com.

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