Olney Theatre Centre's 2014 Season, Featuring "Pick Your Own" Memberships, Includes How To Succeed, The Piano Lesson and Avenue Q

By Carey Purcell
09 Oct 2013

In a new restructuring of the traditional membership format, the Olney Theatre Centre will offer three "mini-seasons," each featuring three productions, in its 2014 season. 



The thee “mini-seasons” feature rolling world premieres, American classics, four musicals and an outdoor Shakespeare production.

Members can select one "mini-season," every single show with the "Get All Three" series or become a member of the "My Olney" Series, where they can put together a "pick your own" season consisting of any three productions of their choosing.

The lineup includes the Contemporary Series (Avenue Q, Colossal, I and You), the Family Series (Once on This Island, The Little Mermaid, The Tempest) and the Classic Series (The Piano Lesson, Awake and Sing!, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying).

"After so many years of trying to serve ever-more diverse audiences with the same broad array of programming, we’re digging deeper for each audience and asking patrons to choose what they want and how they want it," artistic director Jason Loewith said in a statement. "We're offering a Classic Series, a Contemporary Series and a Family Series — so we can pursue each with great rigor and without apology."

The season-at-a-glance follows:

How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 
Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser
Based on "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" by Shepherd Mead
Directed by Jason Loewith
Music direction by Christopher Youstra
Jan. 29, 2014–Feb 23 on the Mainstage

"A musical comedy of the 'Mad Men' era, follows the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch, who climbs the corporate ladder from window washer to high-powered exec with the help of a little handbook called 'How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.' Can Finch tackle such potent dangers as the CEO's nephew, the aggressively compliant 'company man,' backstabbing co-workers, caffeine addiction and multiple inter-office love affairs?"

I and You — A National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere 
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
Feb. 26–March 23 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab

"Anthony turns up in Caroline's bedroom one night bearing waffle fries, a beat-up book and a homework assignment they're supposed to do together: explore Walt Whitman's poem 'Song of Myself.' Chronically sick, Caroline hasn't been to school in a while… and can't ever remember meeting some kid named Anthony, which dials up both her suspicions and her 'snark-o-meter.' But as the two get to know each other through Whitman's powerful verse, they finally learn of the deeper mystery which brought them together. I and You is a valentine to youth, love and the strange beauty of human connectedness."

Once On This Island 
Book by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Based on "My Love, My Love" by Rosa Guy
Directed by Alan Muraoka
April 9–May 4 on the Mainstage

"From the Tony-winning creators of Ragtime and Seussical comes a glorious, Caribbean-infused family musical of enormous heart and magical wisdom. Set in Haiti in the early 20th Century, Island follows the story's young heroine, Ti Moune, as she uses the power of love and storytelling to bring together a community torn apart but racial and economic difference. Full of capricious gods, island magic and joyous dance numbers, Olney's production is directed by Alan Muraoka, proprietor of 'Sesame Street's' Hooper's Store since 1997."

The Piano Lesson 
By August Wilson
Directed by Jamil Jude
May 7–June 1 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab

"Wilson's play weaves the powerful tale of an African-American family in 1936 Pittsburgh struggling to face its past and move into the future. Boy Willie, Bereneice, Doaker and Wining Boy are among the most enduring characters yet written for the American stage."

Avenue Q 
Music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
Book by Jeff Whitty
Directed by Jason Loewith
Choreographed by Bobby Smith
Music direction by Christopher Youstra
June 11–July 6 on the Mainstage

"When a show opens with a song called 'What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?', sung by a lead puppet named Princeton, you know you're in for something exciting. And that's what you'll get with the seismically hilarious, seriously-for-adults, Tony-winning Best Musical of 2004. Songs like 'Everyone's a Little Bit Racist,' 'The Internet Is For Porn,' and 'If You Were Gay' rocketed Avenue Q to the list of longest-running Broadway shows, satirizing (with its very big heart) the 'you can do anything' message of kids' shows from the 70s and 80s. Princeton and friends Kate Monster, Christmas Eve and Gary Coleman might not be special in the grand scheme, but they're awfully special to each other — and that's even more important."

The Tempest
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jason King Jones
July 17–Aug. 4 on the Root Family Stage

"Shakespeare's glorious tale of magical creatures, love, and forgiveness on a faraway island is sure to captivate in our outdoor space, the Root Family Stage. In celebration of their 65th consecutive year of touring, we'll be returning to an old format we've used in the past, in which National Players veterans compose half of the cast of this professional show, mentoring current National Players who take the younger roles."

Colossal — Rolling World Premiere 
By Andrew Hinderaker
Directed by Will Davis
Sept. 3–28 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab

"Structured like a football game (performed in four quarters with a pre-show training session and half-time show), Colossal tells in vivid, physical flashback the story of Young Mike, a college football player who took a hit in a game that left him paralyzed from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair. Broken emotionally and physically, Mike now relives the memory of his accident with the help of a live nine-person football squad onstage, finally confronting his demons in the play's extremely moving and uplifting conclusion. Winner of The Kennedy Center's Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award."

Awake and Sing! 
By Clifford Odets
Directed by Kimberly Senior
Sept. 24–Oct. 19 on the Mainstage

"Odets' 1935 play follows the Bergers, a Jewish family from the Bronx trying to make ends meet during the Depression. The family's matriarch Bessie — one of the most spectacular roles in the American canon — will stop at nothing to keep her family together… even if it means ripping her children's dreams apart. Widely recognized as a classic of the American theatre, Awake and Sing! is directed by Kimberly Senior, fresh off her success with Pulitzer-winner Distracted at Lincoln Center."

DC AREA PREMIERE
Disney's The Little Mermaid 
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Music by Alan Menken
Book by Doug Wright
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen Story and the Disney Film produced by Howard Ashman & John Musker and written & directed by John Musker and Ron Clements
Nov. 12–Dec. 28 on the Mainstage

"In a magical underwater kingdom, the beautiful young mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home – and her fins – behind to live in the world above. But first she'll have to defy her father King Triton, make a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula and convince the handsome Prince Eric that she's the girl whose enchanting voice he's been seeking."

More information can be found by visiting olneytheatre.org.