Olney Theatre’s 2017-2018 season will include early works by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ayad Akhtar, co-productions with Round House and Everyman theaters, and a return of the Hypocrites in a production schedule with more choices than some cities get in a year, the company announced.
Miranda’s In the Heights will kick off the season in a co-production with Round House Theatre. Two-Time Tony Award Nominee Robin de Jesús stars in a story of a lively immigrant neighborhood which gives a first-generation American, having flunked out of Stanford, the courage to realize her best self. Marcos Santana will direct and choreograph; from September 6 to October 8, 2017 on the Olney Mainstage.
Olney will follow up with a classic: Thorton Wilder’s Our Town, directed by Aaron Posner. Posner, of course, is now famous for his new riffs on old stories, but this production will be straight-to-the-bone, as Wilder wrote it. Jon Hudson Odom will play the Stage Manager in this show in the intimate Mulitz-Gudelsky space, which will run from October 4 to November 12 of this year.
Olney will open the new year with Julia Cho’s Aubergine, which it will co-produce with Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre. This is the story of Ray, a Korean-American who has hit the big time by becoming an acclaimed French Chef. He quits, though, to take care of his dying father — who is singularly unimpressed with the food he prepares. And then the Uncle, who doesn’t speak English (Ray doesn’t speak Korean) arrives with supposedly life-saving ingredients for a soup. The Los Angeles Times says the show “lures us into caring about characters who never fail to surprise us with their simple humanity.” Everyman Artistic Director Vincent Lancisi directs the show, which will run on the Mainstage from February 4 to March 8, 2018.
Michael Dove will come in from Forum Theatre to direct Every Brilliant Thing, the Duncan MacMillan (Contractions; Lungs) play about — well, about why it’s not good to commit suicide. After his mother’s suicide attempt, a seven-year-old boy decides to name one million things that make life worth living. (Spoiler alert: ice cream is # 1). “Every Brilliant Thing has a way of turning perceived bugaboos into blessings,” the New York Times says. In the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab from February 28 to March 25 of next year.
Arthur Miller’s play about the ultimate fake news story — the Salem Witch Trials — will hit the Olney Mainstage April 18, 2018 when Eleanor Holdridge directs The Crucible. Miller’s astonishing — and largely true — story about a group of men and women who were put to death because a gaggle of teenage girls insisted that they had visions that the condemned were consorting with Satan was written for the McCarthy era, but resonates in all times of ignorance and paranoia. Through May 20.
We know Ayad Akhtar from his Pulitzer-Prize winning Disgraced, but his earlier work, The Invisible Hand, is (trust me) just as good. It’s the story of an options trader who is kidnapped by a radical group in Pakistan and, when his employer is less than enthusiastic about coming up with the ransom, offers to invest the group’s portfolio and raise the money that way. As the options trader is caught up with the uber-capitalist thrill of growing a portfolio, so are his captors. “Funny and disturbing. Mr. Akhtar’s play…makes a forceful point about the seemingly ineradicable terrorism roiling the Middle East,” says the New York Times, and they’re right. (Sorry to break down the 4th wall, or whatever.) In the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab from May 9 to June 10 of next year; Michael Bloom directs.
And then for something completely different. On the Town — music by Bernstein, book and lyrics by Comden and Green — hits the Olney mainstage on June 20, 2018. This is the story of couples seeking to couple before the men are shipped out to war — specifically, the killing fields of the Second World War. Olney is shipping in a lot of DC talent for this one: Evan Casey, Donna Migliaccio, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Bobby Smith and Rachel Zampelli. Olney AD Jason Loewith will direct this musical, which will run until July 22.
Then The Hypocrites are back in town with their Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore. Of The Hypocrites’ Pirates, which was here last year, Jeffrey Walker said, “The Pirates of Penzance is one wild ride of a show surrounded by a bustling and buoyant beach party.” The two productions will run in rotating rep between July 11 and August 19, 2018, in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab.
In addition to all that, Olney will stage what they call “a big family musical” in the November 8 — December 31, 2017 time slot. They won’t announce what it will be until April 24, though.
But wait, there’s more! Olney will also have a three-play season for young people, starting with Click, Clack, Moo, which will run on February 3 and 4, 2018. As I understand it, the play involves typing cows and labor organization by chickens. For grades Kindergarten through grade four.
You knew it had to come some time: Olney presents The Ugly Ducking, April 14 and 15, 2018, which is a mash-up of the ugly ducking tale with a Burmese story about a mole who hates dirt and an Inuit tale of a bald eagle with a full head of hair. For Kindergarten through grade five.
Finally, Dragons Love Tacos, except for the spicy ones, which have predictable effects. This is the story of a young boy who throws a party without doing his research. For Kindergarten through five, May 19 and 20 of next year.
Olney will also once again feature Paul Morella’s famed one-actor Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas, from November 21 to December 31 of this year. DCTS’ Rosalind Lacy called Morella’s show “inspired, deeply-felt, moving.”
The National Players are once again at Olney during the late summer and early fall of 2017, with a free production of Othello on September 2-3, a world premiere adaptation of the Alice in Wonderland story, Alice (directed by Natsu Odana Power) September 13-17, and a stage adaptation of The Great Gatsby September 20-24.
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