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Rodgers and Hammerstein’s tale of love amidst war comes to Olney Theatre

Rehearsal of “There is Nothing Like a Dame” with star Jessica Lauren Ball from the classic musical “South Pacific,” coming to Olney Theatre Center. COURTESY PHOTORehearsal of “There is Nothing Like a Dame” with star Jessica Lauren Ball from the classic musical “South Pacific,” coming to Olney Theatre Center.   COURTESY PHOTO  Every actor has a dream role, said Jessica Lauren Ball. Hers is Nellie Forbush, the affable nurse whose love for a wonderful guy is almost undone by her prejudices, in the musical “South Pacific.”

“It’s been at the top of my list,” Ball said. “I love Rodgers and Hammerstein in general, and this is a wonderful show.”

Rodgers wrote the music, and Hammerstein, the lyrics. Hammerstein co-wrote the book, with Joshua Logan.

Even when she was in high school, Ball’s friends kept telling her she’d make “an amazing Nellie Forbush.” Ball agreed she is energetic and a “cockeyed optimist,” as the character Forbush describes herself.

So, “excited” is an understatement of how she felt, said Ball, when director Alan Muraoka cast her in the role for Olney Theatre Center’s production of the 1949 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, which opens the theater’s 2018-2019 season.

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Shakespeare’s ‘star-crossed lovers’ appear in free STC production

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2016 production of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’’ COURTESY PHOTOShakespeare Theatre Company’s 2016 production of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’’ COURTESY PHOTO  Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For All not only offers a play by the Bard each summer free of charge, but also “revives” a production the theater had presented earlier.

This summer, it’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which appeared on the STC stage in 2016.

That means the convenience of using the same set and costumes and many of the same actors.

But when Alan Paul, director of both productions and STC’s associate artistic director, watched the archival video from the first, he saw changes he wanted to make.

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Two MoCo playwrights write winning plays in Silver Spring Stage’s one-act-festival

Cast, playwright, and director of ‘Birthday Girl’ at Silver Spring Stage. COURTESY PHOTOCast, playwright, and director of ‘Birthday Girl’ at Silver Spring Stage. COURTESY PHOTO  “When a dream explodes.”

That was the theme of a new-play festival competition Marilyn Millstone entered at an Illinois theater recently, but exploding dreams certainly hasn’t been the case for her playwriting career.

Millstone’s entry for that competition, “Play Date,” will be livestreamed on Facebook Aug. 23.

“Livestreaming is very public,” Millstone said, admitting some anxiety. “But ‘Play Date’ is my boldest and bravest play so far, about a chance encounter between strangers at a bus stop.”

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Highwood’s latest show spoofs a theater production run amok

Cast members of Highwood Theatre’s ‘Play On!’ look at scripts. COURTESY PHOTO Cast members of Highwood Theatre’s ‘Play On!’ look at scripts. COURTESY PHOTO  If there’s anything tougher than comedy, it’s pulling together the production of a comedy in two weeks.

Especially one that involves a lot of physical, as well as verbal, comedy.

That’s the task that fell to the young performers, in grades 7-12, in Highwood Theatre’s Summer Active Intensive program. They’re presenting Rick Abbot’s “Play On!” Highwod’s final production of the season and the only non-musical play the theater is producing this summer.

Rick Abbot is one of several pen names for prolific playwright Jack Sharkey (1931-1992), who published 83 plays under his own name and four others.

The conceit of “Play On!” said artistic director Matthew Nicola, is that while a theater troupe rehearses for – and later puts on – a comedy, disaster follows. Disaster that audiences can laugh at.

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Century-old play resonates with today’s immigration issues

Elenilson Ayala (second, left) and members rehearse for ‘The Melting Pot.’ COURTESY PHOTO Elenilson Ayala (second, left) and members rehearse for ‘The Melting Pot.’ COURTESY PHOTO  Sometimes a play written decades ago seems contemporary.

That’s the case with “The Melting Pot,” a play British author Israel Zangwill wrote in 1908 about anti-Semitism and the hatred of immigrants.

It’s the inaugural production of a new performing organization, the Jewish Community Theater of Montgomery County, along with the Temple Beth Ami Players.

“There’s been no dedicated Jewish theater in the County for like 30 years,” said David Fialkoff, director. “And the County has such a large Jewish population.”

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O’Malley's March comes to BlackRock Family Fun Festival in Germantown

O’Malley’s March to perform at BlackRock Family Fun Festival in Germantown this Saturday. COURTESY PHOTOO’Malley’s March to perform at BlackRock Family Fun Festival in Germantown this Saturday. COURTESY PHOTO  Before Martin O’Malley was mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, he played music professionally.

He still does.

While in high school O’Malley formed a band, which played Irish music and folk rock. After graduating from University of Maryland Law School, he went solo for a year.

Then, in 1988, he founded the Baltimore-based Celtic rock band O’Malley’s March, in which he is the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar and penny whistle.

The band started as a trio, but now has seven musicians.

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Wildwood Theatre presents musical version of ‘Little Women’ at Arts Barn

Ben Simon stars as Laurie, and Emily Alvarado stars as Jo, in the Wildwood Theatre production of ‘Little Women’ at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg. COURTESY PHOTOBen Simon stars as Laurie, and Emily Alvarado stars as Jo, in the Wildwood Theatre production of ‘Little Women’ at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg. COURTESY PHOTO  When Emily Alvarado heard Wildwood Theatre Company was presenting both “Heathers” and “Little Women,” there was no question of which show she had her mind set on.

It was “Heathers,” – and specifically, the role of Veronica, the most-popular girl in a high-school clique.

“‘Heathers’ was on my bucket list,” said the Maryland native of the 2014 off-Broadway musical, based on the 1988 cult film.

Alvarado has moved back and forth between Maryland and Puerto Rico, her parents’ birthplace, but her dreams remain the same.

“All I wanted my entire life was to be on Broadway or sing [professionally],” she said.

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Quotidian serves fanciful Shakespearean comedy with Irish twist

Ian Blackwell Rogers (Puck) and Madie Kilner (Faery) in Quotidian Theatre Company’s “An Irish Twist on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.” COURTESY PHOTOIan Blackwell Rogers (Puck) and Madie Kilner (Faery) in Quotidian Theatre Company’s “An Irish Twist on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.” COURTESY PHOTO  Directors often set Shakespeare’s works in times and places different from the originals. Quotidian Theatre Company is transposing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Regency Ireland.

“Much as the stories of the lovers, rude mechanicals [laborers], and fairies converge in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ a few of my passions came together to inspire our Irish twist on Shakespeare’s classic comedy,” said Stephanie Mumford, QTC’s co-founder. “The play has always been a favorite of mine since I saw Max Reinhardt’s magical 1935 film version.”

Mumford and Leah Mazade adapted the play and are co-directing it. But they attribute much of the production’s “authentic Irish atmosphere” to Kate Bole and Peter Brice, choreographer and music director, respectively, Mumford said.

“I’ve been a traditional Irish dancer since the age of seven,” said Bole, who studied and taught with the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance. “Soon after I found I had a real love for choreography.”

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Magic, music, and storytelling merge in Flying V Theatre’s first one-person show

Zia Hassan, who has performed around the area, will star in “The Very Fabric of Reality,” part of Flying V Theatre’s “Awesome-A-Thon Vol. 2” and its first one-person show.  COURTESY PHOTOLocal performer Zia Hassan will star in “The Very Fabric of Reality,” part of Flying V Theatre’s “Awesome-A-Thon Vol. 2.” COURTESY PHOTO  Zia Hassan has “always been a performer.”

He started making Michael Jackson-like dance moves at the age of three, then doing magic shows at age six. He took up piano at age seven and started writing his own music.

“So, piano recitals were interesting,” Hassan said. “Most of the other students were playing tried-and-true classical pieces, like Beethoven, and I was writing instrumentals inspired by events in my life.”

Theater performances followed in middle and high school, but, in college and beyond, Hassan evolved into what he is now: a solo performer.

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Highwood Theatre presents student productions of musicals ‘Godspell’ and ‘My Fair Lady’

Students rehearse for the iconic musical “Godspell,” one of two Highwood Theatre summer productions. COURTESY PHOTOStudents rehearse for the musical “Godspell,” one of Highwood Theatre's summer productions. COURTESY PHOTO  Summer may be overall slow, but Highwood Theatre is gearing up for two student musical productions.

First, there’s “Godspell” – this year’s Musical Theatre Intensive program for seventh through 12th graders.

The show, with concept and book by John Michael Tebelak and music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, brings vaudevillian elements and diverse musical styles to a contemporary take of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Henry Gottfried, an actor who appeared in the first national tour of “Bright Star” and the TV production of “Peter Pan Live!” is directing.

“This seemed like a stretch of the muscles,” he said.

It’s also new for Gottfried to be directing kids this age.

“But young actors are pretty gung-ho” he said. “Because this is summer camp, these kids have chosen to be there.”

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