Dallas Theater Center’s world premiere of Bella: An American Tall Tale begins previews September 22 prior to an official opening September 30 in the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre.
The new musical, which features book, lyrics and music by Kirsten Childs (Fly), is produced in association with New York’s Playwrights Horizons, where it will appear in spring 2017.
Directed by Robert O'Hara, the cast is led by Ashley D. Kelley as Isabella “Bella” Patterson with Josh Davis as Snaggletooth/Bonny Johnny; Yurel Echezarreta as Diego/Conyers; Denise Lee as Grandma; Will Mann as Old Man; Liz Mikel as Aunt Dinah; Kenita R. Miller as Mamma/Cabbagestalk; Paolo Montalban as Tommie Haw; Clifton Oliver as Aloysius; Gabrielle Reyes as Young Girl; Zak Reynolds as Gabriel; and Donald Webber Jr. as Nathaniel.
Bella, according to press notes, is set in the Wild West and “tells the story of Isabella ’Bella’ Patterson, a young black woman in late 19th Century America who boards a train west to reunite with her Buffalo soldier sweetheart. On her journey, Bella will encounter the most colorful and lively characters ever to roam the Western plains. Bullets and fists will fly, heads and hearts will break, but blessed with a big heart and a voluptuous figure, Bella will breeze through it all.”
“I'm so happy to be back in Dallas to bring audiences the larger-than-life tale of Bella,” Childs said in an earlier statement. “After discovering a part of the American West that never made it into my school history books, I was inspired to write a tall-tale musical about people of color on the Western frontier – rootin' tootin' cowboys, bold soldiers, plucky mail-order-brides and hope-filled settlers – and the wide-eyed itty bitty gal who had an effect on them all. It's a true thrill to watch the show come to life with a crackerjack cast, music, dance and design team, all under the guidance of the extraordinary director Robert O'Hara. I hope you enjoy Bella’s true story as much as I enjoyed making it up!”
The creative team also includes choreographer Camille Brown; music supervisor/music director/conductor Rona Siddiqui; orchestrator Daryl Waters; associate music director/associate conductor Vonda K. Bowling; music contractor Debbie Brooks; copyist Drew Zaremba; set designer Clint Ramos; costume designer Dede Ayite; sound designer Brian McDonald; lighting designer Japhy Weideman; projection designer Jeff Sugg; projection programmer Erin Teachman; and wig designers Dave Bova and J. Jared Janas.
Performances continue in Dallas through October 22.
Tickets are on sale at DallasTheaterCenter.org and by phone at (214) 880-0202.
(Updated September 22, 2016)