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June 25, 2012

Olney Theatre Center's 75th season to include edgy plays, musicals

The Olney Theatre Center will celebrate a milestone in its distinguished history -- the 75th anniversary season -- with some edgier works than usual, reflecting the input of newly appointed artistic director Martin Platt.

Among Platt's stated goals is the "expanding and enriching" of programming, which has tended toward the conservative side lately (the current season includes a production of the vintage thriller "Sleuth" that will be followed by "Little Shop of Horrors").

Nothing conservative about the opening selection for the season in February 2013: "Spring Awakening," the rock-propelled, Tony-winning musical from 2006 about budding adolescent sexuality.

Two 1950s musicals are also slated: the largely forgotten "Carnival," based on the film "Lili" and featuring a song that enjoyed hit status for a time, "Love Makes the World Go Round"; and "Once Upon a Mattress," the charming vehicle that launched Carol Burnett's career.

A 2012 play by Jeff Talbott, "The Submission," is on the schedule. This "politically and racially charged" piece, Platt says, "will ...

make us a little uncomfortable in all the right ways."

The lineup also includes "Neville’s Island, A Comedy in Thick Fog," by Tim Firth, author of the popular play and film "Calendar Girls"; "Angel Street," the thriller that became better known as "Gaslight" in the classic movie version; an updating of Moliere's "Tartuffe, or The Hypocrite," complete with Euro-pop score; and two productions from the New York-based Bedlam Theatre, Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Shaw's "Saint Joan."

The California-born Platt, who started on the Olney job in late May, has a broad background to draw upon as he sets about guiding the company's next act.

His resume includes stints as co-director of the Perry Street Theatricals in New York; founding artistic director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival; general director of Birmingham Opera Theatre, where his repertoire included the U.S. premiere of Verdi’s "Stiffelio"; and artistic director of the New Mexico Repertory Theatre.


Posted by Tim Smith at 12:48 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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