Andre De Shields & Adam Chanler-Berat to Lead Public Theater & DTC's THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE in Dallas; Full Cast & Creative Team Announced
Dallas Theater Center announced today the award-winning cast and creative team for the world premiere new musical The Fortress of Solitude, a co-production with The Public Theater in New York City. The Fortress of Solitude is based on the nationally best-selling novel of the same name by 2005 MacArthur Fellow Jonathan Lethem. The musical is conceived and directed by Daniel Aukin, with a book by Itamar Moses, and music and lyrics by Michael Friedman. The Fortress of Solitude opens with previews on March 7 and runs through April 6. Tickets to this stunning new musical, The Fortress of Solitude, are on sale now at www.DallasTheaterCenter.org and by phone at (214) 880-0202.
Aukin has previously directed critically acclaimed productions at New York's Roundabout Theatre Company, Lincoln Center and Manhattan Theatre Club.
"The notion of adapting this gorgeous novel into a musical was terrifying and thrilling and, finally, inescapable," says Aukin. "I met with Jonathan Lethem and, in a shockingly wonderful show of faith and generosity, he granted permission to give this idea a go."
Friedman, the composer and lyricist of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, was also drawn to the story. "It's always tricky to find material that really wants to be musicalized," he says. "Jonathan's novel is full of music, both imagined and remembered."
Friedman and Moses adapted the novel together. "It has always been a kind of recursive process of responding to each other, supporting each other, following each other in whatever direction feels most useful and effective," says Moses.
The result is a heartbreakingly beautiful tale of the childhood friendship between Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude, set against the backdrop of the musical landscape of the end of the twentieth century. It is a story of 1970s Brooklyn and beyond - of black and white, soul and rap, block parties and blackouts, friendship and betrayal, comic books and 45s.
Adam Chanler-Berat, who originated the role of Henry in Broadway's Next to Normal and of Peter in Broadway's Peter and the Starcatcher, plays the role of Dylan Ebdus. Kyle Beltran, who recently starred in Tarell McCraney's Choirboy at Manhattan Theatre Club, and who also appeared in the Broadway production of In the Heights, is Mingus Rude. The boys, both abandoned by their mothers and left in the care of difficult fathers, bond over comic books, LPs, and graffiti.
Emmy Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated actor Andre De Shields comes to Dallas Theater Center for the first time ever as Barrett Rude Senior, Mingus' grandfather. Deshields has appeared in countless Broadway productions including The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin' and The Full Monty. Kevin Mambo, who appeared as the title character in the Broadway production of Fela! and in the national tour of The Book of Mormon as Mafala, plays Barrett Rude, Jr., Mingus' father and the lead singer of the soul group the Subtle Distinctions.
DTC Brierley Resident Acting Company member Alex Organ, recently in Fly By Night and A Christmas Carol, plays Dylan's father Abraham. Local musical theater star Patty Breckenridge plays the roles of Rachel, Dylan's mom, and Mrs. Lomb. Etai Benshlomo from the Broadway production of Wicked appears as Arthur; Nick Christopher from the Broadway production Motown as the neighborhood bully Robert; Jeremy Dumont from DTC's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and A Christmas Carol as Gabe; Carla Duren from the Broadway production of 110 in the Shade, and Dallas Theater Center's Give it Up!, is Lala and Abby; local actress Alison Hodgson, who has appeared on stage at Circle Theatre and Jubilee Theatre, plays Liza; Helen Hayes Award nominee Jahi Kearse appears as Henry and Raf; and local actress Traci Lee, who appeared in DTC's production of Cabaret, plays Marilla. Britton Smith, who has appeared at Lincoln Center; Akron Watson, who has appeared locally at Dallas Theater Center, Theatre Three and WaterTower Theatre; and Juson Williams, from Encore's The Wiz round out the cast as the members of the Subtle Distinctions.
The Fortress of Solitude marks the return to Dallas of legendary set designer, Eugene Lee, for the first time in more than two decades. The three-time Tony Award-winning designer was DTC's resident designer from 1984-1991. His work at DTC included legendary productions of All the King's Men, Galileo and The Tempest, as well as his design for the Arts District Theater, where DTC produced productions from 1984-2005, when it was torn down for the construction of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Lee's many national credits include serving as the resident scenic designer for NBC's Saturday Night Live since its inception, and his groundbreaking designs for Broadway musicals, including Wicked, Sweeny Todd, and Candide.
Tyler Micoleau returns to DTC as lighting designer for The Fortress of Solitude. His previous DTC productions include A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Who's Tommy, among others. Making her DTC debut is Jessica Pabst (The Whale and Moses' Nobody Loves You) as costume designer. Also returning to DTC is Tony Award-winning sound designer Robb Kaplowitz (Fela!), who previously designed DTC's It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman.
Southern Methodist University alumnus Kimberly Grigsby, who was the music supervisor for DTC's It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman, returns to Dallas to be the show's musical director. Grigsby's recent Broadway credits include Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Spring Awakening. Rounding out the creative team is Camille A. Brown as choreographer. Brown is the artistic director and choreographer of the award winning Dance Company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers.
"The Fortress of Solitude is an emotionally moving musical filled with breathtaking songs and beautifully crafted characters," says DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty. "It is an honor to welcome back to Dallas so many long-time friends and collaborators for this production, including Eugene Lee, a man who helped create this organization's artistic identity and whose work has served as a constant source of inspiration for Dallas theatergoers for several decades."
Following the incredibly successful runs of our last two productions, which performed almost nightly to sold-out houses, theater-goers are encouraged to purchase their tickets early to ensure their ability to see an extraordinary musical adaptation of the national best-selling novel. Tickets for The Fortress of Solitude are on sale now. Ticket prices start at $15 and are available online at www.DallasTheaterCenter.org or by phone at (214) 880-0202. The Fortress of Solitude opens with previews on Friday, March 7 at 8:00 p.m. with a Pay-What-You-Can performance. Tickets to this performance will be available for purchase online at www.DallasTheaterCenter.org beginning Monday, March 3. Any unsold tickets to the PWYC performance will be available for purchase at the Wyly Theatre box office the night of the show beginning at 6:30 p.m. DTC's Come Early sponsored by Wells Fargo will take place one hour before every performance and will be led by Alex Organ. Patrons will have the opportunity to learn about the play prior to viewing the production. DTC's Dr. Pepper Snapple Stay Late will take place after each performance. Patrons will have the opportunity to engage with artists, learn about the production and share insights about the play in a lively discussion, which will be moderated by Alex Organ. Details for Come Early and Stay Late are available online.
Photo by Jennifer Broski