Musical Summer in Dallas - Dallas Summer Musicals 2009
The history of Dallas Summer Musicals begins in 1941 with Opera Under the Stars in Fair Park's Band Shell. The first season was co-produced by a group of local Dallas businesses and the Schubert organization in New York City, producers of touring theatrical productions. Ten shows, running a week each were planned for the first season but the season was so successful two additional shows were added. The season ran through September 4, 1941
The onset of World War II prompted the cancellation of the season in 1942. The summer theater resumed operation in 1943 when a group of local businessmen established a non-profit organization to produce the season. A series of ten shows were presented that year. R. Meeker took control of the theater in 1945 and introduced the star system at the theater in 1947 - at a time when operettas continued to be the theater's mainstay.
The year of 1954 was particularly significant. That’s the year the Music Hall was air-conditioned, allowing the theatre to leave the Band Shell. The move indoors to the Music Hall was not only an obvious boost to audience comfort; it allowed greater flexibility and creativity in the way shows were staged. The name of the summer theater was changed to the State Fair Musicals at the time.
Operettas began to fade from the scene in the 1950s, a decade when touring shows and “personality” shows also became part of the pattern of a typical summer season. “The Jack Benny Revue” in 1954 was the first of a series of personality shows to also include such glittering names as Carol Burnett, Mitzi Gaynor, Carol Channing and Jim Nabors.
Charles Meeker left the theater in 1960, taking a young usher and assistant named Michael Jenkins with him, to produce shows at Six Flags Over Texas.
Tom Hughes, then the house manager at the Music Hall, took over management of the theater in 1961 and a year later the Summer Musicals separated from the State Fair of Texas becoming an autonomous civic organization called the Dallas Summer Musicals. Carol Burnett also made her first appearance that year, revitalizing a theatre that had begun having problems attracting large audiences.
Remodeling of the Music Hall – a multi-million dollar investment that transformed the faded auditorium into one of the nation’s premier theater facilities – was a reason for another season cancellation.
During the 1970s and 1980s several shows produced by the Summer Musicals toured nationally such memorable productions were “Peter Pan” starring Sandy Duncan, and “Hello Dolly!” starring Carol Channing.
After Tom Hughes’ death in 1994 Michael Jenkins came back to a game. He quickly put together a season for the summer of 1995 and began instituting changes and giving a more contemporary spin to the theater operation, at the same time remaining faithful to the foundation created by Meeker and Hughes before him.
Among these changes have been the introduction of new marketing strategies; a return to producing shows locally, at one time a hallmark of the theater (including productions of “The Music Man”, “Oklahoma!” and “South Pacific”); establishing a winter season named the Broadway Contemporary Series, bring more cutting-edge and avant-garde shows to local audiences; establishing the DSM School for training talent; assuming control over the management of the Music Hall and The Majestic Theatre for the City of Dallas establishing a network of major cities tout DSDSM productions; and, at the same time, continuing the traditional emphasis on family entertainment during the summer.
This summer, again, some tasty offerings are coming to meet musical theater lovers’ expectations. Well, the season is in a full swing and you’ve already missed few really good evenings at the Music Hall, but there’s more.
Mamma Mia -- Catherine Johnson's sunny, funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship, and every night everyone’s having the time of their lives! Come and see the show that 40 million people all around the world have fallen in love, on August 18th through 30th @ Music Hall at Fair Park.
Running September 24 through October 18 Marry Poppins, the world’s most famous nanny will arrive at the Music Hall. Combining the best of the original stories by P. L. Travers and the beloved Walt Disney film, the Tony® Award-winning MARY POPPINS is everything you’d hope for in a Broadway musical—and more. Produced by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, the show includes such wonderful songs as Chim Chim Cher-ee, A Spoonful of Sugar, Let’s Go Fly a Kite and of course, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Also, the last but not least -- the original Broadway stars Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee are coming to Dallas for one of the national tours first stops. Check them out.