The Dallas Opera to Conclude 2015-16 Season with SHOW BOAT
SHOW BOAT will open on the evening of April 15, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. for the first of six performances in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas.
This production stars Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman, praised by The Chicago Tribune for radiating "enough vocal allure, physical beauty and charm to light up the stage," in the role of Magnolia Hawks and "elegant" baritone Michael Todd Simpson (Huffington Post), a Dallas Opera favorite, as the irresistible Gaylord Ravenal.
SHOW BOAT also marks the company debut of "fearless" soprano Alyson Cambridge (Milwaukee Magazine) as Julie LaVerne, a mixed-race singer at a time when social conventions and unjust laws conspired to keep blacks and whites apart.
In the iconic role of "Joe," bass Morris Robinson, a commanding Commendatore in TDO's 2010 Don Giovanni, "brings a penetratingly deep operatic bass to 'Ol' Man River'," according to Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times.
Soprano Angela Renée Simpson, with a sublime vocal instrument that can "bring the house down" (Opera News) will perform the role of Queenie.
Broadway dancer, singer and actor Lara Teeter charms as Cap'n Andy Hawks, the owner of The Cotton Blossom, and mezzo-soprano Mary-Pat Green makes a delightful Parthy Ann Hawks-both, in their Dallas Opera debuts.
Conducted by Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume-fresh from triumphant productions in London's Covent Garden and at Lyric Opera of Chicago-and directed by E. Loren Meeker (Manon), "whose megawatt talent lights up the stage" (Berkshire Fine Arts), our season finale is a high watermark in this season's altogether extraordinary journey.
This production of SHOW BOAT is made possible through the generous contributions of Tom and Phyllis McCasland and TACA.
Additional performances will take place on April 17 (2:00 p.m. Sunday matinee), April 20, 23 and 29 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices for SHOW BOAT start at just $19 and can be purchased conveniently online at www.dallasopera.org or by contacting The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000.
SHOW BOAT courageously addressed some of the most contentious social issues of the day within the context of a beautifully told story of a bittersweet, lifelong romance. Originally produced by the legendary showman Florenz "Flo" Ziegfeld, this musical also marked one of the first times Anglo and African-American performers shared the same stage and equal billing on "The Great White Way" (an early twentieth-century reference to the theater district's dazzling electrical lights). Broadway would never be the same.
Based on the best-selling 1926 novel by Edna Ferber, SHOW BOAT is the source of many memorable and much-loved musical numbers including "Make Believe," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" and "Ol' Man River." The landmark musical also tackled such taboo subjects as racism, alcohol addiction and miscegenation on this journey through several transformative decades of American life in the rural south and urban north.
Stylistically, Kern and Hammerstein combined the traditions of Vaudeville, African- American musical entertainments, and operetta to craft something altogether new.
This brilliant Francesca Zambello production of SHOW BOAT was first created for Lyric Opera of Chicago and subsequently performed at Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera. This groundbreaking musical carries us down the Mississippi, through love's choppy waters, as life rolls on for the inexperienced daughter of a show boat captain and the gambling man she genuinely adores.
"SHOW BOAT was one of the first musicals to tell our story, the American story, in all its diversity and complexity," explains The Dallas Opera's Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. Its heroes and heroines are ordinary human beings-working hard, struggling with oppression, addiction and despair; yet finding love, success, and forgiveness along the way.
"Although Hollywood often attempted to 'sugar coat' SHOW BOAT's messages, the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, who tackled the topic of racial prejudice on more than one occasion, never allows us to forget the injustice at the heart of this culture and time period. And it is a work," Cerny adds, "that continues to speak to us today."
The massive set pieces for this production were designed by Peter J. Davison (The Rake's Progress, Le nozze di Figaro and Cyrano de Bergerac for The Met), the colorful and authentic costume designs are by Paul Tazewell (Hamilton, On the Town, In the Heights, Guys and Dolls) and the original lighting design by Mark McCullough.
For these performances, lighting design is by Erik Watkins and sound design by Mark Grey. Wig and make-up design is by David Zimmerman.
Dance is a major element in SHOW BOAT, here choreographed by the dynamic Michele Lynch. Assistant Choreographer and Ballet Master William Gill, a former performing artist at Dallas Black Dance Theatre now based in Chicago, returns to familiar territory to both work and perform with artists from Dallas Black Dance Theatre II on a host of musical numbers designed to move both SHOW BOAT's story-and timeline-forward.
The DBDT II dancers participating in this production are: Akila Brooks, Ricardo Burgess, Lailah Duke, Herman Houston III and Christen Ashley Williams.
"Dallas Black Dance Theatre is looking forward to this artistic partnership with The Dallas Opera and our DBDT II dancers, as we bring to life a groundbreaking American musical that courageously addressed contentious social issues in its day," said Dallas Black Dance Theatre Founder Ann Williams.
"We are looking forward to this unique adventure of collaborating with another resident company of the AT&T Performing Arts Center to present a high-caliber performance in the Dallas Arts District."
"One of my goals since coming to The Dallas Opera six years ago has been to seek out impactful artistic collaborations with our peers in the Arts District," explains Mr. Cerny. "Dallas Black Dance Theatre was one of the arts organizations at the top of that wish list and I am enormously grateful to Ann Williams, Zenetta Drew and Nycole Ray for responding with such enthusiasm to our overtures."
"I am confident that the participation of dancers from DBDT II will lend an even greater dimension of elegance, vitality and authenticity to these outstanding performances."
Other members of the SHOW BOAT dance ensemble include Caradee Cline, Bryan Cunningham, Jason Fowler, Jen Gorman, Tony Howell and Devyn Woodruff.
The chorus will be prepared by the distinguished Dallas Opera Chorus Master, Alexander Rom.
The Dallas Opera performs all works in their original languages. Easy-to-read English language supertitles are projected above the stage during every Dallas Opera performance and special headsets are available for the hearing impaired.
No late seating is permitted at Dallas Opera performances once the house doors are closed.