March is Women’s History Month, which is a time to commemorate and encourage the study of women’s history and celebrate the great impacts women have made. Not only does Olney Theatre Center have some great women in our organization, but in our rich 80 year history we have undoubtedly had some great women grace our stages and work behind the scenes.
Yesterday, when talking in the office about who to include in this post, we threw around so many names that I said “Wow, that’ll be one long blog post!” Out of respect for everyone’s time, I can’t highlight every amazing woman who has ever walked through OTC’s doors. That could be a novel! But even if you don’t see their names here, know that many incredible women have helped shape Olney Theatre Center into the respected institution that it is today. Below, learn about some of them:
The late Broadway legend, Carol Channing, performed on our Historic stage in Pygmalion in 1953. According to Olney legend, this performance was part of a year-long lobbying campaign to be cast in My Fair Lady, which was being written at the time. We can’t confirm if this is true, but we do know that she loved working at Olney Theatre Center, and extended Pygmalion at the theatre’s request for a sold out run.
Marcia Gay Harden
Film, TV, and Broadway actress Marcia Gay Harden was an Olney favorite. She performed in not one, not two, but four shows on OTC stages! She debuted in The Time of Your Life in 1983. She returned for Enter a Free Man and Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart, which she earned a Helen Hayes nomination for, in 1984. And she came back one last time in 1985 for Beth Henley’s Miss Firecracker Contest.
You may know this Emmy-award winning actress as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren from Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. But many years before she was the only actress to win an Emmy in both the Comedy and Drama categories in the same role, she performed here! While she was an undergraduate student at Boston University, Uzo Aduba performed in Translations of Xhosa in 2003, which garnered her a Helen Hayes nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Debbie Ellinghaus is our current Managing Director, and has been here since 2014. While Jason Loewith is in charge of managing all things that fall under the Artistic/Producing umbrella, Debbie is in charge of overseeing everything else! As you can guess, that is no small feat. (Somehow, she even finds the time to write blog posts) In the past five years, Olney Theatre Center has experienced a period of immeasurable growth, and Debbie can take credit for much of that. We’re so grateful to thrive under her leadership!
Marcia Milgrom Dodge
Marcia Milgrom Dodge is a Tony-nominated director, as well as a choreographer, and playwright. She has been working in theatre in various facets for over 30 years! She directed the 2009 revival of Ragtime on Broadway and at The Kennedy Center, and was the first woman to direct a major musical produced by The Kennedy Center. She is the Director/Choreographer of our current production of Once! Audiences have adored seeing her work, and we’re so glad we got this chance to have her here. (And it’s not too late for you to see her work too! Once closes this Sunday.)
This is just a small listing of the many great women who have been through Olney’s doors. We’re so grateful for these women, this month and every month.