Olney Theatre Center has announced the lineup for its 2019-2020 season:
Cabaret (August 28 – October 6, 2019)
Singin’ in the Rain (November 8, 2019 – January 5, 2020)
Miss You Like Hell (January 29 – March 1, 2020)DC-area premiere by Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown)
The Humans (April 1 – May 3, 2020)
Pippin (June 10 – July 19, 2020)
Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab Productions:
The Royale (September 25 – October 27, 2019, co-production with 1st Stage)
A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas (November 29 – December 29, 2019)
The Amateurs (March 4 – April 5, 2020)
On March 2nd, Olney Theatre Center Artistic Director Jason Loewith unveiled a lineup of 16 plays, concerts, and presentations coming in 2019-2020 as part of the company’s 82nd season, including the highly-anticipated DC-area premiere of Miss You Like Hell by Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown.
Included in the lineup are both classic and contemporary musicals, family fare for the holidays, Tony-winning dramas and work by some of the most innovative American playwrights.
“The past five seasons have proven our community is comprised of diverse audiences,” said Jason Loewith. “One wants to indulge in award-winning productions of classic musicals, while another expects OTC to introduce them to new works that stretch theatrical boundaries and speak to this troubled socio-cultural moment in our nation’s history. Yet another sees live theater as an opportunity to celebrate with multiple generations of their families. All of them expect the vivid and professional storytelling we’ve become known for, artistic excellence on par with anything they’ve seen downtown or in New York. We’ve got something for all of them.”
Olney Theatre will produce four musicals on its 428-seat Mainstage, beginning with Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret (August 28 – October 6, 2019), directed by Alan Paul, Associate Artistic Director at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, making his OTC debut. Paul has become a nationally in-demand musical theatre director and has been the driving force behind the musicals added to the Shakespeare Theatre repertoire. He teams with choreographer Katie Spelman who has recently worked at the Denver Center, Goodspeed Opera House and as an associate on Broadway for Amelie, Once, American Psycho, and the upcoming Moulin Rouge.
Marcos Santana, the director/choreographer of OTC’s Helen Hayes Award-winning co-production of In The Heights (with Round House Theatre) returns to Olney Theatre to direct Singin’ in the Rain based on the classic movie musical (November 8, 2019 – January 5, 2020). Santana will be joined by choreographer Grady Bowman, who last worked at Olney Theatre Center on the acclaimed My Fair Lady.
Miss You Like Hell (January 29 – March 1, 2020) by Pulitzer-winner and In the Heights co-creator Quiara Alegría Hudes and folk-rock innovator Erin McKeown opens in 2020, directed by Latinx Theatre Commons co-founder Lisa Portes. The production received the ultimate endorsement when Lin-Manuel Miranda re-tweeted the casting call for Miss You Like Hell on January 9, saying “The Olney rules, can’t wait for this!” Lisa Portes, currently directing Larissa Fasthorse’s Thanksgiving Play at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, is Head of Directing at The Theatre School at Depaul University.
Completing the quartet of musicals is the beloved musical Pippin (June 10 – July 19, 2020) directed by Eleanor Holdridge, whose 2018 production of The Crucible at Olney Theatre ran to critical and popular acclaim.
In the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, OTC will be producing two area-premieres by cutting-edge playwrights at the forefront of American drama, as well as a recent Tony-winning drama in the Mainstage. First, The Royale (September 25 – October 27, 2019) by Marco Ramirez wowed New York critics when it premiered at Lincoln Center with its innovative approach to a story inspired by Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight Champion. Loewith remarks, “It reminds me a lot of Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker, one of my favorite plays we’ve done here at Olney. They’re both sports stories addressing some of the fundamental fault lines in our society and doing it through highly theatrical and poetic movement. It’s the kind of play that’s a perfect fit for the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab and I’m excited to see where director Paige Hernandez takes the production.” Most recently, Hernandez directed Rep Stage’s production of Twilight: Los Angeles. The Royale will be a co-production with 1st Stage in Tysons’ Corner, continuing Olney’s tradition of regional collaboration which in recent years has included work with Everyman Theatre, Round House Theatre, and Adventure Theatre MTC.
The second production in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab brings playwright Jordan Harrison (Marjorie Prime) back to the Theatre Lab with his brilliant play The Amateurs (March 4 – April 5, 2020). And when we say he’s back in the Lab, we mean that fairly literally, because in addition to being about a troupe of 14th Century actors who are performing the morality play Noah and the Flood and fleeing from the Bubonic Plague, when they happen to stumble upon the concept of ‘character,’ the play also features the appearance of a character named Jordan Harrison. Senior Associate Artistic Director Jason King Jones draws the plum assignment of directing this meta-theatrical hall of mirrors.
The Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab will close temporarily following the run of The Amateurs for renovations beginning in the Spring of 2020. More details about that project as well as other campus improvements will be announced at a star-studded event in the fall.
Back on the Mainstage. acclaimed local director Aaron Posner directs the DC Resident Regional Premiere of Stephen Karam’s drama The Humans (April 1 – May 3, 2020). Karam’s script arrived like a revelation off-Broadway in 2015 and proceeded to run on Broadway for a year, sweeping a host of awards along the way including the Tony Award for Best Drama. The Blake family breaks from tradition, holding Thanksgiving dinner at youngest daughter Brigid’s Chinatown duplex. However, strange noises from upstairs and simmering secrets, failures and fears among the assembled family members make this gathering both familiar and haunting. Posner returns to Olney Theatre for a first production on the Mainstage after directing Our Town in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab in 2017.
Concerts, TYA, National Players and a decade of A Christmas Carol
The incredibly popular Applause Concert Series created by Associate Artistic Director for Music Theatre Christopher Youstra returns for a second season. These three, one-night-only concert presentations of rarely-seen musicals expand the company’s offerings: Kander and Ebbs’ Kiss of the Spider Woman (Friday, October 11) accompanies the production Cabaret, Dessa Rose (Friday, March 6) by Lynne Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty follows Miss You Like Hell and Lerner & Loewe’s Brigadoon (Friday, July 24) pairs with Pippin.
In addition, OTC’s tremendously successful Theater for Young Audience Series returns for a fourth year, presenting two weekends of the touring company TheatreworksUSA’s productions of Dragons Love Tacos and Other Stories (October 26-27, 2019) and Pete the Cat (January 11 – 12, 2020) in the Historic Theatre.
The National Players, under the artistic direction of Jason King Jones, celebrates its 71st season with touring productions of The Diary of Anne Frank, As You Like It and the theatrical adaptation of the popular young-adult novel Walk Two Moons. Each National Players production will present Pay-What-You-Can performances in the Historic Theatre before heading out on the road.
Finally, Paul Morella’s one-person A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas celebrates its tenth anniversary run in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab (November 29 – December 29, 2019).
ABOUT THE SHOWS:
Mainstage AUGUST 28 – OCTOBER 6, 2019 Book by Joe Masteroff • Based on the play by John Van Druten and Stories by Christopher Isherwood Music by John Kander • Lyrics by Fred Ebb • Music Direction by Christopher Youstra Choreographed by Katie Spelman • Directed by Alan Paul
“Willkommen! And bienvenue!” to Kander and Ebb’s Tony-winning Cabaret, where the world burns brightly with desire and debauchery. In 1929 Berlin, Cliff arrives to work on his novel but finds himself swept up in the life of the cabaret with its bawdy Emcee, and swept away by the performer and provocateur Sally Bowles. Bunked together at Fräulein Schneider’s boarding house, their impossible affair bumps up against the threatened love between their landlord and a Jewish fruit seller. From the opening notes of “Willkommen” through the title song and such classics as “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Money,” Cabaret delivers a raw theatrical experience on a knife’s edge between unbridled sexuality and looming disaster. Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Associate Artistic Director Alan Paul (Camelot, Kiss Me Kate ) makes his OTC debut.
DC-Area Premiere THE ROYALE Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab SEPTEMBER 25 – OCTOBER 27, 2019 By Marco Ramirez • Directed by Paige Hernandez A co-production with 1st Stage in Tyson’s Corner
In 1905, Jay “The Sport” Jackson dreams of becoming the first African American boxer to fight for the heavyweight championship. Despite racking up a string of vicious knockouts, racial segregation and his white manager’s own reservations stand in the way. Inspired by the true story of Jack Johnson, The Royale breaks new ground by taking us inside the fighter’s mind where the disciplined brutality of boxing reveals itself in theatrically-unforgettable bouts. At stake is more than wins or losses, but equality and survival.
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
Mainstage NOVEMBER 8, 2019 – JANUARY 5, 2020 Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green • Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed Music Direction by Angie Benson • Choreographed by Grady Bowman Directed by Marcos Santana. In the Heights Director/Choreographer Marcos Santana returns to OTC with another classic American musical! The greatest movie musical of all time comes to life on the Mainstage and for once, rain during the holidays is guaranteed to make you smile. Comden and Green’s ingenious tale of Hollywood’s transition from the silent era is buoyed by the thrill of live singing and dancing to some of the greatest songs in the American canon including “Good Mornin’,” “Make ‘em Laugh,” and “Moses Supposes.” Our biggest production of the year is certain to impress Broadway regulars and enchant kids meeting this musical for the first time.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS
By Charles Dickens Adapted and starring Paul Morella NOVEMBER 29 – DECEMBER 29, 2019. It’s the 10th Anniversary of Olney’s favorite Christmas tradition. Paul Morella’s captivating solo performance of the Dickens classic keeps audiences coming back season and after season. They come for the masterful storytelling and come back for the way Paul keeps this tale fresh, year-after-year.
MISS YOU LIKE HELL
DC-AREA PREMIERE, Mainstage, JANUARY 29 – MARCH 1, 2020 Book and Lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes • Music and Lyrics by Erin McKeown Directed by Lisa Portes
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning co-creator of In the Heights comes a new musical as big as America and as intimate as love between a mother and her daughter. Beatriz arrives in Philadelphia to convince her estranged 16-year-old daughter Olivia to join her on a road trip to California. Along the way, they encounter a mosaic of characters as diverse and weird as America itself, but the hard truth of Beatriz’s undocumented status and pending deportation to Mexico threatens to build a wall between them. With sharp comedy and a winning acoustic score by folk-rock star Erin McKeown, Miss You Like Hell is an American story for our time.
DC-AREA PREMIERE THE AMATEURS Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab MARCH 4 – APRIL 5, 2020 By Jordan Harrison • Directed by Jason King Jones
It’s the 14th Century, the Black Death is ravaging Europe, and a traveling troupe of actors is performing the story of Noah. Everything is going about as well as can be expected until the actress playing Noah’s Wife stops to ask why her character would get on the boat with all those smelly animals. And by the way, doesn’t she deserve a name other than “Noah’s Wife”? Jordan Harrison, the theatrical mastermind behind Marjorie Prime, takes us on another mind-bending journey from the 14th Century to the present day, as he creates a meta-theatrical hall of mirrors about storytelling, illness and loss, as well as a love letter to the stories that help us persevere.
Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play, Mainstage APRIL 1 – MAY 3, 2020 By Stephen Karam • Directed by Aaron Posner
By turns hilarious and haunting, the Tony-winning play The Humans tells the story of the Blakes, a middle-class American family celebrating a most unusual Thanksgiving. This year, they gather in New York City at youngest daughter Brigid’s Chinatown apartment – a basement duplex that would feel like a bargain if not for the lack of sunlight and the sudden, unexplained, loud noises coming from upstairs. Normally they celebrate in Scranton, but the break with tradition is just one of many disruptions with which they’re forced to contend. Stephen Karam’s brilliant play delivers both the warm comfort of family and thoroughly modern anxiety about what’s on the other side of the wall.
Mainstage JUNE 10 – JULY 19, 2020 Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz • Book by Roger O. Hirson Music Direction by Christopher Youstra • Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
We’ve got magic to do in the Summer of 2020! This classic musical about a young man in search of his purpose features some of musical theater’s best-loved songs and most theatrical moments. From the battlefield to the bedroom, from intrigues political to intrigues romantical, Pippin just can’t figure out how to be extraordinary. Director Eleanor Holdridge ( I And You, The Crucible ) gives OTC a production of the most beloved coming-of-age musical.
APPLAUSE CONCERT SERIES
One-night-only concert versions of musicals we think are worth a second look featuring top talent and a large orchestra.
KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2019 Music by John Kander • Lyrics by Fred Ebb • Book by Terrence McNally
Thirty years after winning the Tony for Cabaret, Kander and Ebb racked up another win with the dark and surprising Kiss of the Spider Woman. With songs like “Dear One” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” Kander and Ebb transform a harrowing tale of persecution into a dazzling spectacle that juxtaposes gritty reality with liberating fantasy.
FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 2020 Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens • Music by Stephen Flaherty Based on the Novel by Sherley Anne Williams
This 2005 chamber musical from the creators of Ragtime brings together two young women from wildly different backgrounds in pre-Civil War America. Dessa Rose is a young enslaved woman bent on achieving freedom for herself her child. Ruth is a disaffected Southern belle, abandoned by her husband and trapped by convention. Together they plot an unlikely escape.
FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2020 Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner • Music by Frederick Loewe Original dances created by Agnes DeMille
New Yorker Tommy Albright unexpectedly arrives at the mysterious Scottish Highland village of Brigadoon, which only appears for one day every 100 years. When Tommy meets and falls in love with Fiona, a beautiful villager in this magical hamlet, he must decide whether to return to his old life, or stay in Brigadoon — forever. Featuring such standards as “Almost Like Being in Love,” “Come to Me, Bend To Me,” and “Heather on the Hill.”
THEATER FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES
Theater for Young Audiences Theater for Young Audiences introduces young kids and grandkids, nephews and nieces to the magic of theater with a series of hour-long presentations based on their favorite books and produced by the nation’s top touring children’s theatre companies.
DRAGONS LOVE TACOS AND OTHER STORIES
OCTOBER 26 – 27, 2019 Produced by TheatreWorksUSA
Taco-loving dragons headline this collection of your child’s favorite books including The Interrupting Chicken, The Dot, Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, and Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa School Days.
PETE THE CAT
JANUARY 11-12, 2020 Produced by TheatreWorksUSA
For Pete the Cat, life is an adventure no matter where you wind up. So the minute the groovy blue cat meets The Biddles, he gets the whole family rocking. That is, except for young Jimmy Biddle, the most organized second grader on planet Earth. But when Jimmy draws a blank in art class during the last week of school, it turns out Pete is the perfect pal to help him out.
Celebrating its 71st season, National Players is a unique ensemble bringing innovative theater to communities large and small across the United States. Founded in 1949, National Players stimulates youthful imagination and critical thinking by presenting classic plays in invigorating ways for modern audiences. National Players is the hallmark outreach program of Olney Theatre Center, and this year welcomes new Theatre Alliance Artistic Director Raymond O. Caldwell as a guest director.
WALK TWO MOONS By Tom Arvetis Based on Sharon Creech’s Newbery Medal-winning novel Directed by Jenna Duncan Pay-What-You-Can Performances August 10 – 11, 2019
While driving cross-country with her grandparents in search of her mother, 13-year-old Sal meets many eccentric characters. None more so than Phoebe – Sal’s best friend and the main character in the stories she tells to entertain her grandparents. Phoebe’s story bursts with wild conspiracy theories of her own missing mother, which helps Sal confront her own loss. But with a deadline looming, Sal might not make it in time to reunite with the one person she wants to find most.
Told primarily through memory, National Players weaves together a story that is both heartrending and heartwarming. Follow National Players on their journey in this moving adaptation of the award-winning novel about family, identity, and coming-of-age.
AS YOU LIKE IT By William Shakespeare Directed by Jason King Jones Pay-What-You-Can Performances August 16 – 18, 2019
Banished from the only home she’s ever known, Rosalind escapes to the Forest of Arden with her cousin Celia and their fool Touchstone. While disguised as a man, Rosalind meets fellow outcasts in the forest, including the dashing and lovesick Orlando. Determined to woo him, Rosalind persuades Orlando in her male disguise to win her heart. For only if Orlando loves her as a man will Rosalind know he truly loves her. With a ten-person ensemble, National Players melds classic language with contemporary staging of Shakespeare’s imaginative tale about city folk venturing into the woods. A romantic comedy about girls, boys, losing oneself, and finding oneself again.
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett Adapted by Wendy Kesselman. Directed by Raymond O. Caldwell Pay-What-You-Can Performances September 17 – 19, 2019
In 1941 Amsterdam, 13-year-old Anne Frank goes into hiding with her family from the Nazis. For the next two years, she never leaves the attic where her family is concealed. With fear of discovery ever present, Anne finds solace writing in her diary, capturing the daily lives of the secret annex’s inhabitants—from the horrors of war to the excitement of first love—with wit, determination, and idealism.
With a multicultural cast, National Players brings the true story of this incredibly insightful young girl that is often read in school to the stage in hopes of inspiring the next generation to stand up for justice rather than sit back in apathy.