New Olney Theatre Centre Artistic Director Martin Platt has wasted no time in putting his stamp on the company’s 75-year history, announcing the 9 productions for Olney’s 2013 season within a few weeks of his appointment.
“There is no better way for me to begin to share with you my ideas and dreams for Olney Theatre Center than by presenting my first season’s plays as Artistic Director,” Platt said. “This season, and the seasons ahead will look to the future of theatre in exciting and challenging ways, as well as always keeping an eye on Olney Theatre Center’s heritage.
“You may look at some of the shows in the season and say to yourself, ‘Oh, I know that play!’ You may want to think again. These will be productions that will challenge your expectations, and I am confident will more than reward you for revisiting a title you think you know all too well.”
Among the familiar titles will be Spring Awakening, Steve Sater and Duncan Sheik’s Tony-winning adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s hundred-year-old play about young men and women struggling to understand their own sexuality in a culture desperately bent on keeping it secret from them. Spring Awakening will run between February 7 and March 13 (all dates are in 2013); the director has not been announced.
John Going will direct Angel Street – perhaps better known by its movie title, “Gaslight” – between June 20 and July 14. This is the story of a woman whose diabolical husband constantly feeds her information which convinces her that she’s lost her mind. It takes a hard-bitten Scotland Yard Detective to figure things out. Angel Street will be the first of what promises to be an annual series of plays revived from Olney’s storied history; the company last produced this play in 1950.
Carnival!, another familiar, piece, will immediately follow Angel Street on August 1-26. Platt will direct this Michael Stewart – Bob Merrill musical about an orphan girl who runs away to join the circus, only to find that it is little more than a flea-bitten troupe. The play is based on the 1953 movie “Lili” and features the well-known song “Love Makes the World Go Round”.
Olney will undertake a third musical November 14 – December 29 when it takes on Once Upon a Mattress, the reworking of the “Princess and the Pea” legend which first brought Carol Burnett to the public eye. Olney has not announced a director for this production yet.
While these plays and musicals are familiar to most theatergoers, Olney will be reaching back even further in history to produce Moliére’s Tartuffe, a bruising sendup of religious fanaticism, hypocrisy, and sex which is still, strangely enough, considered relevant today. Platt will direct this production, which will run from September 26 to October 20.
The Bedlam Theatre Company will visit Olney to produce their four-actor versions of Hamlet and Shaw’s Saint Joan in rep from September 4 to October 13. The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout called this production of Saint Joan “an unforgettable show …The most exciting George Bernard Shaw revival I’ve ever seen, bar none.” Eric Tucker directs.
The Olney season will also produce two newer shows about inspirations gone bad this season. In Tim Firth’s Neville’s Island, A Comedy in Thick Fog, four middle-aged businessmen sent out by their company on a team-building exercise find themselves shipwrecked on a tiny island. How does this “team” cope? To find out, re-read “Lord of the Fliies.” Platt directs this play, which will run from April 4 to the 28th.
Finally, in Jeff Talbott’s 2012 Outer Critics Circle Award-winning The Submission, white playwright Danny submits his script about an alcoholic African-American woman and her card-shark son to an important playwriting festival. Since he’s worried that the theme would seem inauthentic coming from him, he invents a nom de plume – Shaleeha G’ntamobi. Bad luck for Danny: his submission is accepted, and he must find an actress to impersonate Ms. G’ntamobi. This sounds like “Tootsie” for Playwrights but it isn’t. Directed by David Elliot, The Submission will run from May 9 to June 2.
Tickets for this 75th anniversary season will be on sale starting June 22nd.