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February 22, 2011

Theatrical tidbits: 'Oklahoma' reprise, Anna Deavere Smith, 'Two Men Talking'

If you missed the Arena Stage box office record-setting production of "Oklahoma" earlier this season, lighten your hearts with this news: It's coming back to the Mead Center for American Theater for a nice long run, July 8–Oct. 9.

This staging, directed by Arena's artistic director Molly Smith, breathed fresh life into the iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Diversity in casting choices allowed the historically accurate situation in pre-statehood Oklahoma to be reflected. Many of the same cast members will reprise their roles in the return engagement.

Ticket sales to the general public start March 4; for the first 24 hours -- 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. -- there will be $50 tickets on sale at the box office, by phone (202-488-3300, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and online.

"Oklahoma" was so successful back in the fall, with audiences and critics alike, that there was a good deal of Broadway buzz. That buzz seems to be humming again.

There's other Arena Stage-related news. One of the other hits there this season was

Anna Deavere Smith's "Let Me Down Easy," her fascinating look at the quest for physical strength and endurance, the limits of that quest, the inevitability of death, and the ever-challenging issue of our health care system.

On March 8 and 9, the Clarice Smith Center will present "A Performance & Conversation with Anna Deavere Smith." In this Smith at the Smith show, the Baltimore-born actress/playwright will perform excerpts from "Let Me Down Easy." She'll also discuss the creation of the that work, which involved interviewing hundreds of people, including quite a few celebrities, and then bringing those subjects to life onstage.

A Q&A will be moderated Murray Nossel, the writer/actor of "Two Men Talking," a provocative piece that will be presented at the center March 3-5.

Nossel and Paul Browde were adversarial schoolboys in South Africa. Their experiences generated the unscripted "Two Men Talking," which covers such loaded topics as bullying, homophobia and racism -- from the vantage point of two men who grew up "white, Jewish, gay, and privileged under apartheid." 

Now there's a perspective you don't encounter every day.


Posted by Tim Smith at 6:26 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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