Turner, an Academy Award nominee (“Peggy Sue Got Married”) and two-time Tony Award nominee (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”), performed at Arena in a 1981 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She has been a fan of Ivins “for as long as I’ve been aware of her,” she said. “Molly had such a great sense about politics and about citizenship, about our rights and our responsibilities as citizens, that I don’t think have been heard much lately given the state of politics in our country right now.”
“Molly Ivins is a political news icon,” said Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage. “She had a wildness about her. . . . She skewered everybody. She was one of the funniest people in the news, and she always hit the truth button.”
The first reading of the one-woman show was held at Arena three years ago; since then it has been produced in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. “Red Hot Patriot” will be in the Kogod Cradle from Aug. 23 through Oct. 28 — just in time for election season.
Margaret and Allison Engel are twins who managed to write together while living on opposite sides of the country: Margaret, a former Washington Post reporter, is based in Maryland; Allison lives in California. This is their first play.
The script, said Margaret, is about a 50/50 split between Ivins’s words (taken from her writing and interviews) and the Engels’ original writing. “We actually had more of her words initially, but the dramatic requirements really moved us to do much more writing.”
“She really was so prescient about things,” Allison said. “It sounds like she was writing last week.”
Olney Theatre Center’s piano man
Ten years ago, Chris Youstra had an idea.
Youstra, who has musically directed Olney Theatre Center productions such as “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Annie,” “Peter Pan” and “1776” wanted to do “a concert that was more than a cabaret,” he said, one that explored the piano as a tool for songwriters of every style for the past two centuries.
He’d been meaning to do it, but you know how it is. Kids in the house. Working on 10 to 12 concerts and shows every year. Plus, Youstra was composing original orchestrations for most of the songs. “I finally just decided in January,” he said. “I wanted to get it done.”
The result is “Ebony, Ivory and Ink,” a two-night production of musical classics as old as Schubert and as new as Jason Robert Brown. A six-player band will accompany four singers familiar to frequent theater-goers: 2012 Helen Hayes Awards co-host Felicia Curry, George Dvorsky (Olney’s “Annie” and “The Sound of Music,” Broadway’s “Passion”), JJ Kaczynski (Olney’s “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Triumph of Love” and “Foreigner”) and Tracy Lynn Olivera, who earned Helen Hayes Award nominations for her roles in Olney’s “Carousel” and this year’s “The Sound of Music.” Proceeds from the show will support Olney’s education and outreach programs.