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A Giant Announcement: Dallas Theater Center Hopes to Strike Oil During 2011-'12 Season

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Dallas Theater Center's artistic director Kevin Moriarty announced the company's 53rd season of shows today, and it includes a couple of giant productions -- including Giant, the much-anticipated new musical by Michael John LaChiusa (book by Sybille Pearson) based on the 1952 Edna Ferber novel. The season features four regional premieres, three comedies, two classic novels adapted for the stage, a Shakespeare and the big musical. Three shows will happen at the Kalita Humphreys Theater on Turtle Creek, the rest at the Wyly Theatre downtown.

The whole line-up follows, complete with a video sneak peek starring Moriarty.

The Tempest Moriarty always starts the DTC season in the fall with a big piece of Shakespeare. His plan is to cycle through the works of the Bard by alternating tragedies, comedies and romances. This one's more of a romantic tragicomedy, set on an island among shipwreck survivors. It's the last play Shakespeare wrote (at least the last one he wrote alone). Moriarty will direct at the Wyly Theatre in the Arts District for a September 9 opening.

To Kill a Mockingbird (Opening October 21 at the Wyly.) Moriarty loves a "first" and this will be DTC's first-ever collaboration with Fort Worth's Casa Manana theater. In conjunction with the show, the Dallas Public Libraries will launch a monthlong "reading initiative" in schools and area book clubs to encourage the reading and discussion of the Harper Lee novel. The play (adapted by Christopher Sergel) will be performed first in the Wyly and then move to Casa Manana, with some cast members acting in both productions. Directed by Wendy Dann.

A Christmas Carol (Opening November 25 at Kalita Humphreys.) Same version as the last five years, again directed by Joel Ferrell.

Giant (Opening January 18, 2012, at the Wyly.) DTC hopes to hit a box office gusher with this musical based on the novel (and subsequent movie) spanning 30 years of love and hate among the West Texas, oil-rich Benedicts, and their nemesis, Jett Rink (the James Dean character in the film). When it debuted two years ago at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, the show was a behemoth, with three acts running more than four hours. Moriarty says lots of work has been done to pare it down to two acts and just under three hours. He's bringing in three-time Tony nominee Michael Greif to direct (the nominations were for Rent, Grey Gardens and Next to Normal). LaChiusa, much admired by the musical theater crowd for The Wild Party and Marie Christine, has yet to compose a big Broadway hit. Look for some Broadway names in the 20-member cast, says Moriarty, though no contracts have yet been signed. "If only James Franco could sing," says Moriarty. Yeah, you'd have your perfect Jett Rink right there.

This will be a co-production with the New York's Public Theatre, where it will move after the Dallas run.

Tigers be Still
(Opening March 2, 2012, in the Wyly Studio Theatre). Kim Rosenstock's quirky 2010 comedy brings siblings back into the same household following a mother's death. Pop culture references and family dysfunction abound in a play New York Times critic Charles Isherwood called "endearing" in its debut at New York's Roundabout Theatre last year. Hal Brooks will direct. DTC, by the way, has commissioned a new piece from Rosenstock, who's regarded as an up-and-comer among young theater scribes.

God of Carnage (Opening April 26, 2012, at Kalita). Two sets of parents meet to discuss playground bullying between their kids and the result is a dark, funny journey into bad behavior by supposedly civilized grown-ups. Yasmina Reza's play was a huge success on Broadway starring James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels as the dads. Wonder who'll play it here in the DTC production directed by Joel Ferrell.

Next Fall (Opening April 26 at Kalita.) Sharing the revolving stage at the Kalita at the same time as God of Carnage will be this play by Geoffrey Nauffts about a gay couple, Luke and Adam, whose relationship is tested by their opposing religious beliefs (one's a hardcore atheist). New York critics deemed it a witty sitcom asking big, uneasy questions. DTC audiences, bless 'em, will categorize it as the season's "gay play." Kevin Moriarty will direct.

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