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Academics

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James Caverly, ’11, who plays Theo Dimas in Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, will play Professor Harold Hill in the Olney Theatre Center’s summer production of Meredith Willson’s Tony-winning musical The Music Man, which opens tonight and runs through July 23. The show’s official opening is on Thursday, June 23.

Sandra Mae Frank, ’13, and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma artistic director Michael Baron will co-direct a company featuring Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing artists. All performances will be performed in American Sign Language and spoken English, and will be open-captioned.

Caverly was an aspiring actor – and a staff carpenter in Olney Theatre’s scene shop – when he saw Deaf West’s 2015 production of Spring Awakening on Broadway. He subsequently approached Olney’s artistic director Jason Loewith about the prospect of a Deaf-centered musical. In March 2019, a week-long workshop brought together a mix of 25 Deaf and hearing artists for a production of The Music Man.

Participants in that workshop returning to work on The Music Man include music director Christopher Youstra, choreographer Karma Camp, and Director of Artistic Sign Language Michelle Banks. Banks has also translated the English script for The Music Man into ASL and gestural language and provides artistic contributions informed by their experience of Deaf Culture. Banks is one of three Deaf artists on the creative team, leading a company that is 50% Deaf or hard of hearing and 50% hearing actors. The other two are Sandra Mae Frank and Ethan Sinnott, professor and director of Gallaudet’s Theatre and Dance program. Sinnott designed the set for The Music Man. More than one dozen sign interpreters are being employed for the rehearsal period.

The cast will also feature Adelina Mitchell (A.D. 16) as Marian, Vishal Vaidya (Groundhog Day) as Marcellus and also the vocalizations in the songs of Harold Hill, Florrie Bagel (Peter Pan) as Ethel Toffelmeier and the Marian understudy, Heather Marie Beck (Dz…) as Alma Hicks, Amelia Hensley, ’13, as Eulalie Shinn, Matthew August as Tommy, Gregor Lopes as Olinn Britt, Andrew Morrill, ’16, as Mayor Shinn, Anjel Piñero, ’22, as Woman #1, Mervin Primeaux-O’Bryant as Maude Dunlap, Nicki Runge as Mrs. Paroo, Gallaudet faculty member Christopher Tester as Oliver Hicks, and Dylan Toms as Ewart Dunlop, with ensemble members Jay Frisby (Miss You Like Hell) and Sarah Anne Sillers (Singin’ in the Rain). Swings include Sophia Early, Jane Enabore, ’16, and Stephen Russell Murray.

Youstra will conduct a 10-piece orchestra that also joins in on the barbershop quartet for “Lida Rose.”

The creative team also includes costume designer Rosemary Pardee, lighting designer Jesse Belsky, Olney resident sound designer Matt Rowe, projections designer Sean Preston, and stage manager Ben Walsh. 

A revival of The Music Man – starring current Tony nominees Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster – is currently playing in the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. Jackson disclosed earlier this week that he tested positive for COVID-19, and has been replaced temporarily by standby Max Clayton.
Ticket information is available at . For more information, call the Olney Theatre Center box office, open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., at 301-924-3400.

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