The Olney Theatre Center has a major catch for next season: the premiere of “Carmen: An Afro-Cuban Jazz Musical” by Moises Kaufman, ringleader of the Tectonic Theater Project ( renowned for creating “The Laramie Project”). Also on tap: an unconventional Gilbert and Sullivan rep from the Chicago outfit The Hypocrites.
Information about the 2015-16 theater lineup across the DC area is now coming forth in a steady stream; companies that have already announced include Arena Stage, The Shakespeare Theatre, Ford’s Theatre and Synetic Theatre, with Round House Theatre releasing its upcoming slate Monday evening. The Olney lineup:
Kaufman’s “Carmen,” with original and adapted music by Arturo O’Farrill (“after Bizet,” we are told) – the famed opera adapted and set in 1968 Cuba. Feb 1-March 6.
“Marjorie Prime,” by Jordan Harrison, about an elderly woman working with holographs to rebuild memories. March 11-April 10.
“Dial ‘M’ for Murder,” by Frederick Knott (who scripted the play and then the screenplay for the 1954 Hitchcock film). April 6-May 1.
“Bakersfield Mist,” by Stephen Sachs, in which a woman (to be played by Signature Theatre stalwart Donna Migliaccio) may have just bought a Jackson Pollock painting at a thrift store. May 13-June 12.
“The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado,” a rep of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas from The Hypocrites. July 14-Aug. 21.
“Evita,” June 23-July 24 – said to be a “chamber-sized” version (details are still taking shape), though it will be in the 400-plus seat main stage theater.
Too much of DC still doesn’t take the Olney seriously because it’s so far out in the Maryland suburbs and used to be summer stock, but it’s an ambitious, eclectic company that gets sharper all the time.
Olney artistic director Jason Loewith tells a good heartbreak story about working in New York and Chicago and narrowly missing chances to get in early on Kaufman projects “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” and Doug Wright’s “I Am My Own Wife” (directed by Kaufman), so he grabbed at the opportunity to premiere “Carmen.” Sounds like a big project: The cast will include around 18 actors, with a band of perhaps a dozen musicians. But then the Olney often goes big; the musicals “Carousel” and “The Producers” are coming this spring and summer, and last year’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” had a ton of flair. Keep an eye on this one.
Also keep an eye on the Gilbert and Sullivan rep; in 2012 the Chicago Tribune called that “Mikado” “about the most fun you can have in a Chicago theater with your family this holiday season.” The Hypocrites are an adventurous troupe that originated the “Our Town” that graduated to a two year off-Broadway run in 2009, and these Gilbert and Sullivan stagings are said to be high-concept entertainments; “Pirates” has actors in shorts and sunglasses strumming guitars.
This slate adds to the previously announced “Hay Fever” and “Bad Dog” (both in September) and “Guys and Dolls” (November). “Bad Dog” is the OTC’s selection in the citywide Women’s Voice Theater Festival: it’s by Jennifer Hoppe-House, who has written for “Nurse Jackie” and “Damages.” It’s a dark comedy about a woman falling off the wagon, and it features a killer cast that includes Holly Twyford, Naomi Jacobson, Emily Townley, Amy McWilliams and Alyssa Wilmouth Keegan.
Loewith directs a “Twelfth Night” July 28-Aug. 14, 2016 on the Olney’s outdoor stage with both current company members and veterans of the National Players, the touring company for young actors created in 1949 at Catholic University and now headquartered at OTC. Also: Paul Morella’s superb solo “A Christmas Carol” returns Nov. 27-Dec. 27.