Each month we ask our staff a question. Everyone has a first show they remember seeing growing up, whether it be a Broadway production or a middle-school show. This month we asked our staff: What was the first show you remember seeing? Take a look at the expansive array of plays and musicals that our staff was first introduced to.
Jason King Jones, Senior Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of National Players: Ted Neeley in Jesus Christ Superstar
Hannah Ensign, Education Apprentice: The first show I remember seeing is White Christmas at Pioneer Theatre Company.
Jenna Duncan, Associate Artistic Director/ Casting Director: Oh my god, a high school production of Fiddler on the Roof. Truly all heart eye emojis about that show.
Colleen Robinson, Manager of Special Events and Donor Relations: If we're talking about any show in general, it was probably my brother's middle school production of Little Luncheonette of Terror (which I'm sure was not at all a cheap rip-off of another famous musical). If we're talking about professional productions, I think my first one was the touring production of Footloose when I was in 8th grade.
Dennis Blackledge, Owner’s Representative/ Director of Production Emeritus: The first production I saw was Billy Budd produced by the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence, RI. It was 1964 or 65 and it completely altered the path I would travel through life. A decade or so later I was a member of the Trinity Staff.
Vern Reske, Production Management Apprentice: I believe it was Wicked (I know). But, my mom's favorite movie is Fiddler on the Roof so I've been watching that for as long as I can remember.
Then, Vern realized she had unknowingly lied to me at first and said:
So the first show I ever saw was actually The Wizard of Oz, or A Wrinkle of TIme, or Ms. Nelson Has Gone Missing at First Stage Children’s Theater. I don’t remember which one came first, but my final answer is that it was one of those three.
Eleanor Hill, Company Management Apprentice: A touring production of The Lion King!
Then Eleanor, following in Vern’s footsteps, also realized she didn’t tell the whole truth and said:
It was actually a production of West Side Story when I was five years old.
Debbie Ellinghaus, Managing Director: The year is 1978 and the place is the National Theatre in Washington, DC. The show was Annie, and it was the first national tour of the hit Broadway show that starred a little girl with red curly hair (and a dog). My grandmother took me and I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time, mesmerized by the magic I saw on stage. I was only 4 years old, but I knew then that theater would play an important part in my life. From then on, my grandmother would take me to the theater often, here in DC and in NYC, and even at Olney Theatre (summertime only back then). Of course, I fell in love with many other shows over the years, but Annie will always have a special place in my heart. I memorized every word to every song on the original broadway cast album, and played the record (yes, RECORD) so much that it had many scratch marks from my abuse. Years later I would learn about the director of that show, Mike Nichols, who in my mind, is one of the greatest theater and film directors in history. And, lucky for me, I had the great fortunate to learn from him while a student in a theater conservatory that he ran (the New Actors Workshop). And even more years later in 2010, I would take my 4-year old daughter to see a production of Annie at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven. Then, in 2018, I had the opportunity to produce Annie at Olney Theatre and watch a whole new generation of kids fall in love with live theater like I did.
Jason Dearing, Props Artisan: When I was in 2nd grade, we had a unit about Shakespeare and Elizabethan England, so my parents decided to take me to A Midsummer Night's Dream at Binghamton University. I remember only two things about the production: it was in the round and someone wore a giant donkey head that blew my 7 year old mind.
Josiane Jones, Director of Production: It was either The Nutcracker at The Kennedy Center or The Butterfinger's Angel in 1989 at Olney Theatre Center -- I believe it was one of the first holiday shows OTC produced.
Gabby Schulman, Casting and Artistic Apprentice: The First show I can remember is seeing Beauty and the Beast on Broadway with my mom and Grandma (who lived in NYC at the time). I think we still have the rose that we bought from the concessions stand there!
Apparently, Gabby’s first show she saw was “The Wizard of Oz” at the National Theatre, but she does not remember this production. So this somewhat counts.
Rebecca Dzida, Community Engagement and Touring Coordinator: My uncle took my family to see Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor at the local public library when I was 5 years old. I was probably the youngest person in the audience that night. I recall some of the costumes, but mostly I remember laughing really, really hard even though I couldn't quite understand the dialogue. My parents say some audience members and even some of the actors came up to them to say how much fun they had watching my delight. That experience obviously set me on a path in life, and to this day, Merry Wives is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.
Fred T. Paul, General Manager - A Christmas Carol