Marooned and left to die on a remote island, Prospero can command spirits, create apparitions and manipulate the elements. By using his magic, he assembles his enemies to take revenge on them, and in the process awakens in Miranda, his teenage daughter, her first experience of love.
As I was watching this performance tonight, I leaned over to my guest and I said, “The only thing I can write about this show is ‘GO SEE IT!’” This weekend at the Wyly Theatre there is a community theatre production of great magnitude. The Dallas Theater Center, Ignite/Artss Dallas and the AT&T PAC joined with New York City-based The Public Theater’s Public Works to produce a wonderful experience that involves LOTS of people in Dallas from the mayor on down.
This is a 90-minute musical adaptation of “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. Which in and of itself makes for interesting theatre. Unlike other musicals based on the bard’s work, this one still uses his words. The show also features 200 people from different community groups and organizations and five professional actors. Three of these, Ace Anderson, Liz Mikel, and Alex Organ, are from the Brierley Resident Acting Company based at the Wyly. Another, Rodney Garza, is very well known around the Dallas area, having worked with Teatro Dallas and DTC among others. Andre DeShields as the lead, Prospero, comes to DTC with a 48 year long pedigree and very distinguished acting recognitions including multiple Tony Award nominations, National Black Theatre Festival’s ‘Living Legend’ Award and a 2007 OBIE for Sustained Excellence of Performance. But these guys are not the stars of the show.
Since 2015, Public Works Dallas has brought artists from DTC to several community centers and provided acting and performance classes to the underserved people of Dallas. Six weeks ago 100 were chosen to start rehearsals for this show. Four weeks ago they were joined by 100 more from other community organizations to complete this production that is as much festival and it is theatre. When asked to explain exactly what was happening, Kevin Moriarity, the Artistic Director of DTC and the director of this staging of the Tempest said, “Public Works Dallas is a movement; a collective call to action in creating art and communities that reflect our nation’s founding democratic ideals of equitable access to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The culmination is 200 people from 5 years old to waaay more than five years old with all levels of experience from every area of Dallas coming together to perform a version of “The Tempest as “vibrant, diverse and full of life as the city of Dallas itself.”
What it is for the theatregoer is 90 minutes of pure enjoyment from the beginning, when the Drumline from the Big ‘D’ Band of Townview High School creates the storm to the spirits teasing the marooned passengers with the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico Dancers and the Miitotiliztli Ydoyollohtli Aztec Dancers to the sweet songs from Rickie Rush’s Living Sound Choir and the Northlake Elementary Wildcat choir to the beautiful interpretation of young love by the Dark Circles Contemporary Dance Company and the Inner City All-Stars Brass band leading the cast through a New Orleans style parade, I had the best time just enjoying the show.
Is it a good production of “The Tempest?” Not really. Shakespeare is certainly spinning in his grave. Are the performances onstage worthy of awards? Not really. Is it thoroughly engaging and entertaining? Most definitely!!! If you can get any of the free tickets available from Bachman Lake Together, City of Dallas Park&Rec, Vickery Meadow Learning Center, Jubilee Park & Community Center or even the Box Office at the Wyly, for Pete’s sake go and see this show! You WILL have fun and you WILL enjoy yourself.
Now playing at the Wyly Theater/Potter Rose Performance Hall thru March 5th