THE LOW-DOWN ON WASHINGTON DRAMA
Comings And Goings
All the world’s a stage. And when it comes to Washington’s world of performance, as everywhere else, change is a constant
FOR THE NEXT ACT
Ryan Rilette has been named the new producing artistic director at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, assuming full-time duties Aug. 1.
Rilette will be following Blake Robinson, who has been producing artistic director here for the past seven, often innovative and acclaimed, years. He moves on to become artistic director at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
Rilette comes to Round House from the Marin Theatre Company, a very successful mid-sized company in Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he most recently directed the world premiere of “Bellwether” by Steven Yockey and “Gods of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza.
Sally Patterson, president of Round House Theatre’s board of trustees, said: “We are proud to be in Montgomery County, to provide innovative and challenging theatre, and to continue our commitment to artistic engagement for all ages. Ryan embodies our greatest hopes for all our aspirations.”
“It’s a great honor to follow in the footsteps of Blake Robison and Jerry Whiddon,” Rilette said. “I’ve long been a fan of both Round House and the D.C. theater community.”
CURTAINS OPEN AT OLNEY
Martin Platt, currently the co-director of the Perry Street Theatricals, a New York-based producing company, has been named the new artistic director at the Olney Theatre Center.
“There are great challenges and even greater opportunities in what we can accomplish in expanding and enriching Olney Theatre Center’s program and making Olney Theatre Center a true performing arts Center in Montgomery County with a great producing theatre company at its core,” Platt said.
Platt has headed such performing arts companies as the Birmingham Opera Theatre and the New Mexico Repertory Theatre. He has worked in London, founded the Santa Fe Stages festival and directed plays at the Cincinnati Playhouse like Sophie Bingham’s “Treason” (about Ezra Pound), “True West” and D.H. Lawrence’s “The Daughter In Law.”
Christina Scheppelmann, the long-time director of artistic operations at the Washington National Opera (WNO) will step down, effective Nov. 30.
Scheppelmann has been a WNO leader since 2002, overseeing the management of the acclaimed Domingo-Cafraitz Young Artist Program, helping to create the American Opera Initiative for young American composers and librettists, helping to produce new works, while overseeing new broadcast and simulcast initiatives and helping to select the WNO repertory of works each season.
“Christina has served Washington National Opera well in her decade here,” said Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser. “Her hard work and diligence were key to making WNO”s recent affiliation with the Kennedy Center a success.”
Adventure Theatre and Musical Theater Center are joining up, co-mingling and becoming one.
The combination will be called Adventure Theatre MTC, “uniting award winning theater productions with high-quality musical theater training. The combined entity will be able to serve more of the DC region and its young people,” according to the new group.
“It is the right step in the exciting evolution of these two entities, Adventure Theatre’s Michael Bobbitt said.
The announcement came in March on the 60th anniversary of Adventure Theatre.
Lots of Good Theater
In years past, summertime was a quiet time for the performance arts in the Washington, usually shifting to outdoor concerts and venues. Theaters tended to shutter their doors.
That’s not the case anymore. For one thing, the time between the old season and the new one coming up has narrowed dramatically. For another — well, for some perverse reason or another — there are lots of show on the boards, lots to see and do.
Here are some interesting choices going on right now. The list is by no means complete.
TWO FOR THREE AT THE KENNEDY CENTER
You can’t get two more diverse and entertaining offerings (make that three, if you count “The Music Man” at Arena Stage) than “First You Dream” and “Memphis” now at the Kennedy Center. “First You Dream” is a showcase project, originated at Signature Theatre by Eric Schaeffer, rifling with great verve and imagination through the songs and music of John Kander and Fred Ebb and with six great singers strutting and vocalizing, dramatizing and — above all — breaking hearts with songs from “Cabaret,” “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Zorba,” and “The Happy Time.” One of the best, but not only, reason, to go is to see and hear the gifted Heidi Blickenstaff once again. (Through July 1 at the Eisenhower). “Memphis,” which won a pack of Tonys (best musical), is a totally different breed of animal, a junk yard dog of a musical about race, the South circa the 1950s, the birth of rhytmn and blues and a melo-plot, featuring a white Memphis hipster hung up on race music and a beautiful black singer. In a heated way, it’s a very engrossing and entertaining show (at the Opera House, also thorugh July 1), and the music is terrific and you can dance to it in your dreams.
Just so you know: “The Addams Family” (the musical) is landing at the Opera House beginning July 10 and running through July 29, click, click. Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday Addams, Uncle Fester, Lurch and the rest are all here.
CLASSICAL LAUGHS AND A NEW DIFFERENCE
Laughs in the classical vein are still available at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. There’s the return of Falstaff in “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” directed by Brit Stephen Raye, a very late Shakespeare play which features scheming wives and the return of Falstaff through July 18 at Harman Hall. Queen Elizabeth loved Falstaff. Extended at the Lansburgh is the latest (well, circa the 16th Century) rage in laughs, commedia dell’ arte style. Through July 8.
The Studio Theatre, under Joy Zinoman and now under David Muse, could and can always be counted on for the new, the odd, the unusual and the original. Two examples are now being staged there, beginning with the caustic “fem” comedy, “Bachelorettes,” directed by Muse himself and extended through July 8 at the Mead Theatre. In the nothing-like-it category is the hauntingly titled “The Animals and Children Took to the Streets” in collaboration with the group 1927, the Spoleto Theatre Festival and the Studio Theatre. It’s a beyond-category piece, described as part Tim Burton, part Dickens, “a graphic novel burst into life.”
IF YOU GIVE …
Speaking of Adventure Theatre, there’s the popular “If You Give …” series: now with “If You Give a Moose a Muffin,” a sequel and, if you can believe, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” Directed by Jeremy Skidmore with Michael Russotto, now through Sept. 2 at Glen Echo.
THREE DAUNTING WORDS
For the ultimate theater nut in you, heed these words: Capital Fringe Festival, July 12 to July 29.★