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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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Frogs star in two of Lumina’s Summerstock Camp productions

Cast of ‘The Frogs’ rehearses as part of Lumina’s Summerstock Camps. COURTESY PHOTOCast of ‘The Frogs’ rehearses as part of Lumina’s Summerstock Camps. COURTESY PHOTO  Lumina Studio Theatre’s mission is to provide unique opportunities for young actors of any level of experience who seek to perform Shakespeare, other plays of the classical repertory, and modern plays that focus on the beauty of language.

There’s no sloughing off during the summer, either.

“Unlike many other theater camps, Lumina productions are not informal or casual productions,” said David Minton, artistic and executive director.

They’re full-fledged productions, with lights, sound and costumes.

Summerstock Camps – as the summer programs are collectively called – have several divisions. The Folk Tale Camp, scheduled July 23 through August 3 for ages 8-11, explores such a tale and turns it into a performance.

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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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Expectations about grieving clash in Unexpected Stage’s ‘sad comedy’

Emily Morrison and Ruthie Rado, play the widowed daughter and mother-in-law in Unexpected Stage’s “How to Be a Good Little Widow.”  COURTESY PHOTOEmily Morrison and Ruthie Rado, play the widowed daughter and mother-in-law in Unexpected Stage’s “How to Be a Good Little Widow.” COURTESY PHOTO  One thing Ruthie Rado likes about the D.C. area – to which she returned after years away – is its “rich artistic community that feels like a community.”

Life is different for Melody, the isolated character Rado plays in “How to Be a Good Little Widow.”

At 26, Melody finds herself a widow, when her slightly older husband dies in a plane crash. Many of those around her, especially her mother-in-law, Hope, expect Melody to mourn a certain way. The older woman belongs to a widows’ league, whose members know “all the rules.”

Because Melody had moved cross country to marry Craig, she lacks a sense of community. She had never been to a funeral before, and expected life to be different.

The “sad comedy,” as playwright Bekah Brunstetter called her work, is Unexpected Stage Company’s next production.

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