Olney Theatre Center Unveils its 17-Show 2016-2017 Season Schedule: Co-Production with Round House Theatre of ‘Angels in America’ Announced

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OLNEY THEATRE CENTER ANNOUNCES RECORD-BREAKING 17 SHOWS IN 2016-17

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World Premieres from Hinderaker and Miroshnik, Multi-Year Co-Production Agreement with Round House Theatre, and Expanded Family Series Headlined by Mary Poppins Make Up Theater’s 79th Season<

Olney Theatre Center, a mid-Atlantic destination for professional theater performance and education, proudly announces its largest season ever in 2016-17, featuring seventeen shows for a range of diverse audiences. The theater’s 79th season includes two world premieres, three legendary musicals, an ambitious multi-year co-production agreement with Round House Theatre, a five-play Family Series, and a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize.

Olney Theatre Center Artistic Director Jason Loewith.
Olney Theatre Center Artistic Director Jason Loewith.

With so much variety on our stages, every theater-lover in the DMV should have plenty of reasons to visit Olney this year,” said Artistic Director Jason Loewith, who announced the 16-17 season to an audience of 300 members and supporters at a private event on March 12.  “As Americans choose their way forward this year, we’ve designed a season of seventeen stories that explore progress in a world held captive by fear, the human capacity for hope in challenging times, and the delight of finding surprising answers to difficult questions.”

Kicking off the season in time for the Presidential election is a 25th-anniversary production of Tony Kushner’s two-part Pulitzer- and Tony-winning epic Angels in America, co-produced with Round House Theatre as part of a two-year partnership to bring ambitious works to increasingly diverse Montgomery County.  The two plays that compriseAngels will be directed by the companies’ artistic directors, and performed in repertory at Round House with a cast of DC’s best-loved actors, including Kimberly Gilbert, Mitchell Hébert, Sarah Marshall, Jon Hudson Odom,Tom Story, & Dawn Ursula.
Round House Theatre Artistic Director Ryan-Rilette.
Round House Theatre Artistic Director Ryan-Rilette.

A second co-production between the companies will be announced this fall, and performed at Olney in the 2017-18 season. “Ryan Rilette, the Artistic Director of Round House Theatre, and I have been working to make Montgomery County an arts destination for the entire region,” Loewith told the crowd at the season roll-out.  “Why not work together?  He and I share an artistic and institutional outlook, and I couldn’t be more delighted to collaborate with him.”

Loewith also announced two world premieres as part of the company’s Contemporary Series:  The Magic Play by Andrew Hinderaker, who won last year’s Helen Hayes Charles MacArthur Award for Colossal, and a world premiere adaptation of Marivaux’s The Double Inconstancy by rising playwright Meg Miroshnik.    The Contemporary Series is rounded out with a thrilling gender-bending revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer-winning Topdog/Underdog, with Helen Hayes Award winners Jessica Frances Dukes and Dawn Ursula in the roles of brothers Lincoln and Booth.
The company’s Classic Series includes Olney’s first Sweeney Todd, anintimate production of The Diary of Anne Frank directed by Holocaust drama expert Derek Goldman, and the much-beloved classic musical My Fair Lady, directed by Lerner and Loewe veteran Alan Souza.
And recognizing the growing number of families living in and around Olney, the theater announced a six-play Family Series, including season productions of Mary Poppins in time for the holidays, the transformative one-man Thurgood by George Stevens, Jr.; Eric Coble’s adaptation ofLois Lowry’s stunning The Giver produced by National Players; and presentations of three TYA companies’ productions of Rainbow Fish, Anne of Green Gables, and The House at Pooh Corner.  
Rounding out the record-breaking season are National Players’ productions of Hamlet and Frank Galati’s adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, and the return of Paul Morella’s one-man A Christmas Carol.   Last but not least, Olney joins forces with the Maryland Humanities Council to present a celebration of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama at its centennial, featuring staged readings of six Pulitzer-winning plays. 
Patrons need only purchase three shows to become a member, and receive major discounts on any additional shows they choose to see in the course of the year.  Three-play memberships begin at $135.
 
OLNEY THEATRE CENTER 2016-17 SCHEDULE**:
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ANGELS IN AMERICA
Part I: Millennium Approaches & Part II: Perestroika
September 7 – Oct 30, 2016
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Jason Loewith (Part I) & Ryan Rilette (Part II)
Performed at Round House Theatre in Bethesda
Featuring Kimberly Gilbert, Mitchell Hébert, Sarah Marshall, Jon Hudson Odom*, Tom Story, & Dawn Ursula
 
TWO GREAT THEATER COMPANIES. ONE EXTRAORDINARY THEATRICAL EVENT.
Just in time for election season, Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center present the 25th anniversary production of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning juggernaut. Sexuality, religion, and politics collide at the beginning of the AIDS crisis in one of the most celebrated plays of the 20th century.  Arguably the most important play about America and politics written between Death of a Salesman and Hamilton.  Don’t missPart I: Millennium Approaches & Part II: Perestroika, presented in rotating repertory.  A second co-production between the two companies will be performed at Olney Theatre Center in 2017-18.  Angels in America is part of the Contemporary Series.
 “The most thrilling American play in years.” – New York Times
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THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
September 14 – October 23, 2016 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab
By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, adapted by Wendy Kesselman
Directed by Derek Goldman*
With Eric Hissom, Paul Morella*, Susan Rome, Michael Russotto*, and Kimberly Schraf
What could be more emotionally stirring than hearing masterful performers tell one of the most powerful, chilling stories of the 20th century in our intimate Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab?  Join Anne Frank, her family, the Van Daans and more for a vivid, dynamic exploration of the “banality of evil” and the ever-present flame of hope in the story of a Jewish girl in Amsterdam during World War II, and their desperate attempt to preserve humanity in an inhumane world.  Directed by Derek Goldman (Grounded),an artist with a national reputation for bringing the lessons of the Holocaust to life. The Diary of Anne Frank is part of the Classic and Family Series.
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Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s
MARY POPPINS
November 2, 2016 – January 1, 2017 on the Mainstage
Book by Julian Fellowes
Original Music by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman
New Songs and Additional Music and Lyrics by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles
Co-created by Cameron Mackintosh
Directed by Jason King Jones
Choreographed by Tara Jeanne Vallee*
Celebrate the holidays with your family at one of the most beloved tales of all time!  It’s 1910 and Mr. Banks is advertising for a stern nanny for his two wayward children… but fortunately for the family, Mary Poppins comes along, and teaches them all – especially Mr. Banks – some valuable lessons in what family really means.   From the magical “Chim Chim Cher-ee” to the delightful “Supercallifragalisticexpealidocious”, you’ll delight to the story of a wizardly, wise nanny, two delightful (if a little crazy) children, and the family she teaches how to love each other.  Mary Poppins is part of the Family Series.
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SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
February 1 – March 5, 2017 on the Mainstage
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Jason Loewith
Choreography by Tommy Rapley
Music Direction by Christopher Youstra
The artistic team behind Carousel and How to Succeed… brings Stephen Sondheim’s Tony-winning “musical thriller” to life for the first time on the Olney Theatre stage.  After 15 years in exile, the barber Sweeney Todd returns to Victorian London seeking revenge against the evil Judge Turpin who separated him from his wife and child.   Falling in league with the twisted and hilarious Mrs. Lovett – a restauranteur with a shortage of ingredients for her meat pies – Sweeney embarks on a deliciously chilling rampage to right the wrongs of so many years ago.  Sweeney Todd is part of the Classic Series. “Extraordinary… fascinating… ravishing.” – The New York Times.
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World Premiere Adaptation
THE DOUBLE INCONSTANCY
March 1 – March 26, 2017 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab
Adapted by Meg Miroshnik from the play by Pierre de Marivaux
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge*
Artistic Associate Eleanor Holdridge (I And You, Hay Fever) takes on one of the funniest French comedies of the 18th century with the help of rising American playwright (and The Kilroy’s co-founder) Meg Miroshnik.   What happens to poor Harlequin when he finds himself kidnapped by an all-powerful Prince with designs on his fiancée, the faint-hearted peasant Silvia?  Will Harlequin speak truth to power and tell the Prince to go hang?  Prepare for disguises, mistaken identities, palace intrigues and improbable romance in this delightful comic romp that ends, of course, in more than one surprising marriage.  The Double Inconstancy is part of the Classic and Contemporary Series.
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Rolling World Premiere
THE MAGIC PLAY
April 12 – May 7, 2017 on the Mainstage
By Andrew Hinderaker
Directed by Halena Kays
With Jon Hudson Odom* and Brett Schneider
From the author of Colossal comes another remarkable story that combines vivid theatricality, profound story and in this case, a touch of true theater magic.   Playwright Andrew Hinderaker weaves a thrilling and theatrical story about a talented magician who has risen to the top of his profession by maintaining absolute control over his performances – as well as his love life.  But when his lover forces him to confront his fears, along with his washed up magician father, his act might never be the same.  Watch card houses fall apart and reassemble, and be prepared to be amazed again as Hinderaker and actor Brett Schneider weave a magical spell that ends in a secret and powerful testament to the profundity of performance and hope.  The Magic Play is part of the Contemporary Series.
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TOPDOG/UNDERDOG
May 17 – June 11, 2017 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab
By Suzan-Lori Parks
Directed by Timothy Douglas
Starring Jessica Frances Dukes and Dawn Ursula
Suzan-Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for Topdog/Underdog, a thrilling and intimate drama about two African-American brothers – Lincoln and Booth – who, in their struggle to gain a foothold in 21st century America end up turning on each other as they fight for scraps from the table of joy.  For this 15th anniversary production, Suzan-Lori has given us permission to cast the show, for the first time, with two actresses of extraordinary talent:  Helen Hayes Award-winners Jessica Frances Dukes and Dawn Ursula.  This is certain to be one of the most astonishingly-felt theatrical events of the DC theater season.  Topdog/Underdog is part of the Contemporary Series.
“The play vibrates with the clamor of big ideas, audaciously and exuberantly expressed, considering nothing less than the existential traps of being African-American and male in the United States… a deeply theatrical experience.” – The New York Times.
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MY FAIR LADY
June 21 – July 23, 2017 on the Mainstage
By Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe
Directed by Alan Souza
Music Supervision by Christopher Youstra
One of the most romantic scores of all time, featuring standards like “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “The Street Where You Live”, takes on new life in an intimate reimagining of the Tony-winning classic My Fair Lady.  Flower-seller Eliza Doolittle wages a romantic battle with uppercrust Henry Higgins, with surprising results in this production by Alan Souza, whoseCamelot the Chicago Tribune called “genuinely revisionist… fascinating and fresh.”  My Fair Lady is part of the Classic Series.
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THURGOOD
July 19 – August 20, 2017 in the Mulitz Gudelsky Theatre Lab
By George Stevens Jr.
Directed by Walter Dallas
“You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.”  So said Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who – long before Antonin Scalia – changed the face of American jurisprudence.  He argued and won the Brown v. Board decision, ending racial segregation in the schools, after a long and strategic journey that began with ending the “separate but equal” mandate in Maryland law schools.  Spend an evening with the late Justice at this one-man show, and consider just how far we’ve come… or have we?  Thurgood is part of the Classic and Family Series.
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CLASSIC SERIES ADD-ONS
CELEBRATE THE PULITZER PRIZE!
Readings of six Pulitzer Prize-winning Plays on the 100th anniversary of the awards
September 30 – October 2, 2016 on the Mainstage
 
Olney Theatre Center and the Maryland Humanities Council team up for a weekend celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes!  Catch six staged readings of Pulitzer-winning plays (and one novel!) that rocked the world in their time, including A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, The Gin Game by D. L. Coburn, Fences by August Wilson,Fiorello! by George Abbott and Jerome Weidman, Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes, and The Bridge Over San Luis Rey by Derek Goldman, adapted from Thornton Wilder.
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A CHRISTMAS CAROL
November 25 – December 25, 2015 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab
Adapted from Dickens and performed by Paul Morella
The tradition continues!  Paul Morella’s haunting, intimate one-man performance of all 40 characters in Charles Dickens’ beloved A Christmas Carol returns to Olney Theatre Center for its seventh year!  Celebrate the true spirit of the holidays with this tour-de-force performance by one of the Washington area’s best-loved actors, experiencing the vivid characters and Victorian setting the way Dickens intended.
“It’s not the season to be pitting versions of A Christmas Carol against one another, [but] right now, [my favorite] is actor Paul Morella’s solo version at Olney Theatre Center.” – The Washington Post
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FAMILY SERIES ADD-ONS
RAINBOW FISH
Produced by ArtsPower National Touring Theatre
January 28-29, 2017 on the Historic Stage
 
With her lovely coloring and shimmering scales, the Rainbow Fish is used to being the most beautiful creature in the ocean. So when the other fish ask her for some silver scales, she refuses. How can she sacrifice the one thing that makes her so unique? Will some good advice from the wise old Octopus persuade the Rainbow Fish to share her gifts with those around her? ArtsPower has turned Marcus Pfister’s bestselling book into a delightful and touching musical about the value of sharing true friendship with others.
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THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER
Produced by Virginia Rep on Tour (Formerly Theatre IV)
April 8-9, 2017 on the Historic Stage
 
Whether young and wide-eyed or wise to the ways of the world, every so often one must “get back to the House at Pooh Corner” to spend some tender time with faithful friends. Piglet, Tigger, Christopher Robin, and that lovable bear called Winnie-the-Pooh lift our spirits and warm our hearts in this charming production, faithfully based on the A. A. Milne classic of the same name. Grades K – 5
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ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
Produced by ArtsPower National Touring Theatre
May 20-21, 2017 on the Historic Stage
 
When you imagine, sometimes you find what you need. When you imagine, you find a home. Matthew Cuthbert and his sister Marilla need a boy to help with the chores around their farm on Prince Edward Island. They are not expecting Anne Shirley, a vivacious orphan with a wild imagination and a breathless fascination to find a place she can call home. ArtsPower’s heart-warming musical, based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved novels, follows Anne on her unlikely journey to find the family she’s always wanted.
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NATIONAL PLAYERS ADD-ONS
THE GRAPES OF WRATH adapted by Frank Galati, directed by Colin Hovde, July 28-31, 2016 on the Historic Stage
HAMLET by Shakespeare, directed by Jason King Jones, August 18-28, 2016 on the Root Family Stage under the stars
THE GIVER adapted by Eric Coble, directed by Jenna Duncan, September 15-25, 2016 on the Historic Stage
National Players – the nation’s longest-running touring company – launches its 68th season at Olney Theatre Center in the summer before traveling to 100 cities across the United States.  The Players are a young non-Equity company of early-career artists who come to Olney each summer to rehearse and perform a repertory of three classic plays for communities from Maine to Florida, from Montgomery County to Montana and nearly every state in between.  The Players have performed in the White House; in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for American military members; and in schools, prisons and community centers in forty states for more than 2.5 million audience members in its history.
**Plays, artists and dates are subject to change.
*Indicates Olney Theatre Center Artistic Associate
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ABOUT OLNEY THEATRE CENTER
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Olney Theatre Center is an award-winning, nonprofit, Equity theater. Located just north of Washington, D.C. in arts-rich Montgomery County, Maryland, Olney Theatre Center offers a diverse array of professional productions year-round. Olney Theatre Center’s four theaters sit on 14 acres in the heart of the beautiful Washington-Baltimore-Frederick “triangle,” within easy access of all three cities. Olney Theatre Center is home to National Players, America’s longest-running touring company, and is led by Artistic Director Jason Loewith and Managing Director Debbie Ellinghaus. For more information please visit www.olneytheatre.org.
Follow Olney Theatre Center on Twitter @olneytheatre and on Facebook at facebook.com/olneytheatre.
**Press release is by Joshua Ford.