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Theatre Denton prepares to launch its 2022 season

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Lights, Curtains, Action!

Theatre Denton prepares to launch its 2022 season that offers a little something for everyone.

For over 50 years, Theatre Denton has been a staple of Denton’s arts scene, providing a live theater experience housed in a historical landmark theater. And on Friday, February 18, 2022, Theatre Denton launches its 2022 season, featuring four stage plays and four musicals.

Theatre Denton’s History

Theatre Denton started in 1969 as Denton Community Theatre. “We started with one production of Our Town, which was originally commissioned by the City of Denton for a spring arts festival,” recalls Mike Barrow, managing director of Theatre Denton. “That festival later turned into the (Denton) Arts & Jazz Festival, so we were part of that original group that started that.”

Barrow says the experience was so enjoyable, the group who performed the play decided to form the Denton Community Theatre. For the first decade or so, the theatre group performed in what was known then as Firehouse Theatre, located above a working fire station. Today, Barrow says that building is known as City Hall West.

After that, the theater group moved around to various stages, finally finding their current home in 1995 at the Campus Theatre — a classic movie house originally built in 1949. “There was about a $2 million capital campaign that enabled us to renovate this building … into a performing arts venue,” Barrow says. And in 2009, the Campus Theatre became a Texas historic landmark.

Then two years ago, Denton Community Theatre decided to merge with another performing arts group in town called Music Theatre of Denton. “We finally decided that we shared audiences, supporters, actors, directors, and it really didn’t make any sense for us to be two separate organizations,” Barrow says. “Music Theater of Denton and Denton Community Theatre consolidated into what we now call Theatre Denton.”

The 2022 Season

Each year, Theatre Denton’s production board of directors and its play-reading committee evaluate all the shows available to amateur theatres to decide what will be included in the upcoming season. Barrow says the board and committee also keep in mind suggestions from the surrounding community.

“The whole time they’re looking at what can we do to make this a diverse season that’s going to appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences,” Barrow explains. “This season, in particular, is a great example of hitting that on the head. They did a wonderful job of choosing the shows this year.”

The 2022 season starts with A Doll’s House Part 2, running Friday, February 18th through Sunday, February 27th. Barrow says as Theatre Denton produced A Doll’s House Part 1 in September 2021, it was the logical choice to start the 2022 season with A Doll’s House Part 2.

Of this particular production, Barrow says it is not what most people will think. “A Doll’s House was written by (Henrik) Ibsen and it’s very much a period-piece drama,” he explains. “A Doll’s House Part 2 was not written by Ibsen. It’s not a parody of A Doll’s House, but it’s much more of a dark comedy than A Doll’s House was. A lot of people look at A Doll’s House Part 2 and they think it’s just a continuation of the drama. It’s really not — it’s got some really sharp dark humor to it. We’re hoping that we get the word out on that so that people won’t be expecting the second verse of the same song.”

The 2022 season continues in April with the musical Godspell. In June, audiences are treated to the stage production of Blithe Spirit, followed in July by the family-favorite musical The Music Man. Then in August, Theatre Denton will showcase the fast-paced comedy Moon Over Buffalo, followed by the classic drama Death of a Salesman in September. And the 2022 season concludes with two musicals — Cabaret in October and November and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in December.

Teaching Tomorrow’s Talent

In addition to running a full season of mainstage productions, Theatre Denton also teaches the next generation of actors and stage crew through its Theatre School.

The school teaches students ages 5 to 18 during three semesters — fall, winter, and spring — as well as two five-week summer camps throughout the year at the Black Box Theatre at Golden Triangle Mall. And Barrow says the students put on a showcase or performance at the end of each semester or camp.

“Theater can be such a confidence builder for kids,” Barrow says. “That’s always one of my favorite things — I see a young person come into our Theatre School and they’re at that stage in their life where they’re shy and they can barely look you in the eye. And then you just watch them after a few semesters just blossom into who they really are.”

Barrow says many students who start at the Theatre School eventually make their way to the mainstage productions at Theatre Denton when they get older. “I’ve had this job for 15 years now and so kids who were 5 to 18 years old 15 years ago, I see now playing major roles on our main stage. It’s so cool to watch that progression.”

A Tough Act to Follow

Although Theatre Denton receives some of its volunteer cast and crew through graduates from the Theatre School, Barrow also says they are very fortunate as there’s never a lack of talent here in Denton.

“Denton has always been such a growth area — you have new people moving in and a lot of people just can’t wait to find out what’s the community theater scene,” Barrow explains. “We get actors (and) crew people all the time that are coming to auditions.”

And because of that deep well of talent, he says people are always amazed at the quality of their productions when they come to a show. “The most often heard compliment that I hear from people all the time is that I saw this show in New York, this is every bit as good,” Barrow adds. “If I hadn’t known, I would have thought I was at a major professional theater.”

Barrow urges community members who want to become involved with Theatre Denton to learn more about their auditions. He says all of their shows are cast by members of the community and surrounding area. Auditions are held for each individual production a few months before the show is scheduled to open, and audition information can be found on the Theatre Denton website.

And for those who have never been to a live theatre production, Barrow encourages them to come out to the 2022 season. “Don’t look at us like your typical community theater,” he says. “You’re going to see a very entertaining and professional performance here. And if you’ve never experienced live theater, you really owe it to yourself to try it.”

Theatre Denton’s 2022 Season starts with A Doll’s House Part 2, which runs Friday, February 18th through Sunday, February 27th. The full 2022 season line-up can be viewed here. All productions are staged at Denton’s Historic Campus Theatre.

For more information on Theatre Denton and to purchase tickets for the 2022 season, visit theatredenton.com.

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