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DTC Donors Follow THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE From Big D to the Big Apple (posted 10-15-2014)

Top: DTC's walking tour of Dean Street in Brooklyn, which is the setting of Act 1 of Fortress.  Les Misérables cast member and Dean Street resident Nehl Joshi (on left side, in hat) surprised the group and joined the tour.


From October 9 - 11, DTC organized a trip to New York City for members of the Gold Leadership Circle. Kevin Moriarty curated a weekend's worth of theatergoing and cultural activities that culminated in a preview performance of The Fortress of Solitude at the Public Theater.

Aaron Lazar in DTC's production of Giant (photo by Karen Almond); Lazar and Sting; Sting, photographed for The Last Ship.

On the first day, the group gathered at The Palm - West Side for a welcome dinner with Broadway veteran Aaron Lazar, who portrayed Bick Benedict in DTC's production of Giant. Aaron plays one of the principals in Sting's new musical The Last Ship. He shared stories of working on that production, as well as other acclaimed shows like The Light in the Piazza. Aaron gave terrific insights into the life of a working Broadway actor. Following dinner, the group attended The Last Ship, and after the performance, they were treated to a talk-back and back-stage tour by Assistant Stage Manager Eric Tysinger, who had served as DTC's production stage manager for over two years. Eric also facilitated a special appearance by Sting himself.

The next day, donors met at the Public Theater, where they heard from Daniel Aukin, Itamar Moses, and Michael Friedman, the creative team behind The Fortress of Solitude. They shared what they had learned from the production in Dallas, what changes they had made so far, and how the piece has continued to develop. Daniel discussed the changes to the set, lighting, and staging of the show, and Michael and Itamar talked about the difficult process of cutting and editing material from the Dallas version to clarify the storytelling. In the afternoon, several donors visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. A state-of-the-art museum on the site of the World Trace Center, the museum is a haunting chronicle of the day that changed America forever, as well as a moving tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks on September 11, 2001. For a complete change of pace, the show that evening was the all-star revival of Terrence McNally's show-biz comedy, It's Only a Play, with Nathan Lane, Stockard Channing, and Matthew Broderick. The day concluded with a late supper at Bluefin on Times Square.

Michael Friedman, Daniel Aukin and Itamar Moses.

For the last day of the trip, Director of New Play Development Lee Trull led a walking tour of Dean Street in Brooklyn, which is the setting of Act 1 of Fortress. Lee provided historical context for the neighborhood, and brought with him surprise guests: Nehal Joshi, a Dean Street resident who had played Jean Valjean in DTC's Les Miserables, and former Brierley Resident Acting Company member Abbey Siegworth, who had just moved to Brooklyn with her husband. The tour concluded with a visit from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, who had grown up on Dean Street with novelist Jonathan Lethem. She told tales of the neighborhood in the 70s and 80s, and of the people who inspired characters in Lethem's novel. Her personal connection to both the neighborhood and the author provided a unique perspective on Lethem's story.

Nehal Joshi in DTC's production of Les Misérables. Photo by Karen Almond.

In the evening, the DTC group attended a performance of Fortress. It was thrilling to see the production at the Public, with all of these new insights into its origins. The performance received a standing ovation from a sold-out house. Afterwards, the group crossed the street to the fabulous Argentine restaurant Malbec House for a late dinner. Music director Kim Grigbsy and Broadway legend André De Shields, who plays Barrett Rude, Sr., joined the DTC group for a memorable meal and engaging conversation. 

Jeff Brangelone,, Kim Grigsby and André De Shields 

Kyle Chanler-Berat, Kevin Mambo and André De Shields in DTC's production of The Fortress of SolitudePhoto by Karen Almond.

The Fortress of Solitude, a world premiere co-production between DTC and The Public Theater, is on stage now in New York. The musical received rave reviews in Dallas and has been mentioned on several “must see” lists for NYC’s fall lineup.

AmericanTheatre.org (American Theater Magazine)
NYtimes.com (New York Times Fall Preview)
NYtimes.com (New York Times Review)