Round House Theatre will co-produce both parts of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America with Olney Theatre this fall, Round House announced yesterday. The joint production will kick off a two-year collaboration between Olney and the Bethesda-based Round House Theatre.
“I’ve admired [Olney Theatre Center Artistic Director] Jason Loewith’s work for some time, and we’ve been searching for the perfect project to collaborate on,” Round House Producing Artistic Director Ryan Rilette said. “Our two-year commitment to co-producing ambitious reperatory theatre will highlight artistic excellence in Montgomery County.”
Rilette and Loewith worked together at the National New Play Network, where Rilette was President and Loewith was Executive Director, before they assumed their current positions.
Angels in America is a play in two parts (Millennium Approaches and Perestroika) in which two men — one of whom is the fearsome real-life lawyer Roy Cohn, who prosecuted the Rosenbergs for stealing atomic secrets and later became counsel to Senator Joe McCarthy — deal with their AIDS diagnoses. Of an earlier production of Angels in America (at Forum Theatre), DCTS called it “a story of love not strong enough to look Kaposi’s sarcoma full in the face. It is a story of being human, which is to say a story about failure. It is a story about angels.”
The Round House-Olney production will feature Kimberly Gilbert, Mitchell Hébert, Sarah Marshall, Jon Hudson Odom, Tom Story, and Dawn Ursula. Loewith and Rilette will co-direct Angels in America which will run from September 7 to October 30, 2016.
Lauren Gunderson (I and You) will return to the Washington-area stage with the rolling world premiere of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly, which she co-wrote with Margot Melton. The story promotes a character from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to center stage, where she shares Christmas with the Darcys two years after the action in Austen’s book. The San Francisco Chronicle noted its “bursts of smart, infectious humor.” The cast will be Joseph Carlson, Katie deBuys, Danny Gavigan, Miranda Rizzolo, William Vaughan, and Erin Weaver. Eleanor Holdridge directs. Miss Bennet will run from November 23 to December 18, 2016.
Round House will give Kushner another showing in 2017 with the musical Caroline, or Change, for which Kushner wrote the book and lyrics and Jeannie Tesori wrote the music. Caroline is the story of a young Jewish boy and an astringent African-American maid. DCTS’ Debbie Minter Jackson, reviewing a 2014 Studio production, called it, “a musical wonder with hints of societal consciousness, haunting atonal riffs, joyful melodies, and cultural messages all wrapped in the deceptively simple packaging of a young Jewish boy’s southern experience with a sullen black maid in the household.”
The Round House production will feature Felicia Curry, Will Gartshore, Naomi Jacobson, Lawrence Redmond, Olivia Russell, Awa Sal Secka, Dorea Schmidt, Scott Sedar, Korinn Walfall, and Kara-Tameika Watkins; Nova Y. Payton will play Caroline and Matthew Gardiner will direct. From January 25 to February 26 of next year.
You may remember the story of Aphra Behn from Empress of the Moon: The Lives of Aphra Behn, Forearmed’s production of which graced the 2014 Fringe Festival. Behn was a 17th-century woman who was a British spy and a playwright (she didn’t get paid for her espionage, so she turned to playwriting for money.) Round House will be producing Or, an Aaron Posner-directed Liz Duffy Adams comedy about Behn’s first play, which she has twenty-four hours to write while at the same time saving the neck of King Charles II. ” One of the considerable beauties of Liz Duffy Adams’ hilarious ‘Or,’…is the effortless acuity with which time periods are layered upon each other.” said Robert Hurwitt of SFGate. Or runs from April 12 to May 7, 2017.
The regular Round House 2016-2017 season closes with a production of the solo show How I Learned What I Learned, August Wilson’s talking memoir of his life as a young man and a young writer. “[A] genial ramble through Wilson’s early days, and through the streets of the Hill District in Pittsburgh,” Christopher Isherwood of the New York Times called it. Eugene Lee takes on the role which Wilson himself played until his 2005 death. From June 7 to July 2, 2017.
In addition to its own season, Round House will host Happenstance Theatre’s production of Moxie: A Happenstance Vaudeville from June 24 to July 17 of this year. Happenstance, Washington’s leading clown troupe, has had a long and successful partnership with Round House.
From March 17 to 19 of next year, the Round House Teen Performance Company presents Beach Week, a play by Diana Metzger, a writer on MTV’s Faking It about high school graduates living on their own. Without supervision. By parents or anybody.
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