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July 27, 2005

Historic Olney Theatre Remodeled

Hosts Equity-Only Auditions

By Gregory Gorton

In July 1938, Olney Theatre raised the curtain on its first production, THE LADY HAS A HEART. During the 50-plus years and hundreds of productions that have followed, the Olney Theatre Center has remained one of the Washington/Baltimore area's finest stages.

Olney Theatre

The Remodeled Olney Theatre

Currently, OTC is undergoing remodeling and a bit of a face-lift. Artistic Director Jim Petosa is looking forward to the new space. "The new main stage increases the proscenium opening, gives extraordinary sight lines, is acoustically designed for the speaking voice, is both intimate and epic, and is just a glorious new space for our productions." It will have a capacity of 429, slightly smaller than the original theatre.

The first production at the new theatre will be THE MIRACLE WORKER, featuring Marybeth Wise and Carolyn Pasquantonio as Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. The cast also includes such Olney favorites as Chris Yates, Jim Slaughter, and Halo Wines. Directing is Jim Petosa. Previews begin on August 10, 2005.

Olney Theatre Center has also been extremely supportive and connected to the entire Washington/Baltimore theatre community. For the third consecutive year, it was the host venue for the Equity Only Auditions sponsored by the Washington/Baltimore/Northern Virginia Equity Liaison Committee.

Upwards of 200 actors, including many from New York, Pennsylvania and Southern Virginia, were given three minutes each to present their monologues and/or songs to the assembled 25 theatres and their casting associates and representatives on January 17 and 18, 2005.

Once again, several of the veteran auditionees spoke of the work they had gotten directing from their involvement with these auditions. That trend seems to be continuing, as is the growth in the number of auditions and actors participating each year.

Olney Theatre Center's Associate Producing Director Brad Watkins and his staff have always been helpful and gracious hosts, and that tradition was kept alive this year.

"I'm thinking back a few years to the D.C. area Equity meeting," said Jim Petosa, "where the idea of Equity only regional auditions first came into being. The fact that it is now a tradition is terrific. Olney has always viewed itself as being a strong advocate for the D.C. area actors and theatre artists. Playing a collaborative role with the union acting community is a wonderful way of expressing that part of our mission. I hope it continues for years."

Keep checking the DC/Baltimore AEA Audition Hotline for updates and information regarding the 2006 auditions.

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