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No Count Dracula in DTC's New Season Lineup, but Count on a Return of Ebenezer Scrooge

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Dallas Theater Center is just hours away from releasing its official announcement of its 2014-'15 season, but we already know this: No Dracula, no Shakespeare.

Since 2012, we've been waiting for this theater's world premiere of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's The Dracula Cycle. It was postponed in 2012, replaced with, of all things, The Odd Couple, and it didn't show up this season either. Now DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty says it probably won't happen at all.

"Roberto has no time to write a play for us right now," Moriarty said during a chat in his office at the Wyly Monday morning. Aguirre-Sacasa has been busy with a musical version of American Psycho, currently playing in London, and is now in charge of making film and TV franchises out of the Archie comic book series. Moriarty shrugs off the loss of Dracula, saying, "When a play is done, it's done."

There will, however, be a return to some classical plays at DTC next season (that means old stuff by playwrights who scribbled by candlelight). DTC is launching its "Classical Theater Initiative," which will present comedies and dramas by long-dead greats (and thus no royalties to pay!). Two of those next season will be performed in DTC's old home at the Kalita Humphreys Theater on Turtle Creek. But Moriarty assures that neither are by the Bard -- though he might do more Shakespeare in seasons to come. He recently brought in Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis to work with DTC's resident acting company on performing Greek tragedy. So watch for titles by Sophocles or Euripides to pop up. Plus, says Moriarty, there will be productions over the next five years of great plays by Ibsen, Chekhov, Shaw, Goldoni and Aeschylus.

"We haven't really been doing the dead people," says Moriarty. Now they will.

As we told you earlier, DTC is producing five of its nine shows next season in Kalita, reserving the downtown Wyly Theatre solely for four productions that need more space for spectacle, large casts and special effects. They booked all seven productions into the Wyly this season. (Still to come this spring and summer are Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, opening April 25, and Les Miserables, opening June 27.)

Two shows we know for sure will be in the mix next season are the world premiere of Will Power's musical Stagger Lee, which DTC has been workshopping for over a year here and in New York City, and a reprise of Moriarty's re-do of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which sold out its debut run this past holiday season. The same adaptation will be directed this time around by Lee Trull, with choreography by Jeremy Dumont. DTC company member Chamblee Ferguson will play Ebenezer Scrooge.

Stagger Lee is a retelling of the true story of a flashy 19th century pimp named Lee Shelton, a saloon shooting he was involved in and his subsequent murder trial and pardon. The story entered African American folklore and spawned hit songs in the early 20th century. The new musical was developed by DTC in collaboration with SMU, where Will Power holds a playwriting residency at the Meadows School of the Arts. Power is also DTC's resident playwright for three years.

Both A Christmas Carol and Stagger Lee will be staged at the Wyly.

Other intriguing hints Moriarty allowed before announcing the new season: He'd love to get actor Brian J. Smith back to town to star in something. Smith, 32, was raised in Allen and Plano, graduated from Collin College, then Juilliard, and just ended a much-acclaimed run on Broadway as "The Gentleman Caller" in a smash hit revival of The Glass Menagerie. Smith's being touted for a Tony nomination for his performance. (As a student he had a small role in DTC's production of the play Big Love, before Moriarty's arrival as artistic director.)

Also, Moriarty says he made a mental shift a few months ago, from thinking of himself as "the new artistic director" at DTC and the new guy in the Dallas theater community. He's in his seventh year as DTC's sixth artistic director in its 55-year history and seems to be looking at the future of the place without him.

"There's no longer a question of how the Wyly Theatre will work or what kind of artistic director I'll be," he says. "I'm not going anywhere, don't misunderstand. I feel pretty confident about my relationship with the DTC board and the community. But something has changed in me. I've switched to thinking about institution-building. I find myself thinking about what happens here when I'm gone."

Visit The Mixmaster tomorrow morning for the full Dallas Theater Center season line-up.

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