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OLNEY THEATRE CENTER GIVES NEW LIFE TO DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge returns to Olney Theatre; Jade Jones stars as Belle; Cancer survivor Evan “Lord Pegleg” Ruggiero cast as the Beast
Olney, MD — October 4, 2021 — Resuming its tradition of big, family musicals for the holidays, Olney Theatre Center produces Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (November 5, 2021 - January 2, 2022). Directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, who wowed Olney audiences with her Helen Hayes Award-nominated production of Once, this Broadway hit gets a fresh perspective with two performers who challenge our expectations of a Disney Princess and her Prince. Jade Jones, who in 2020 received two Helen Hayes Award nominations for her performances in School Girls, or the African Mean Girls Play (Round House Theatre) and Into the Woods (Ford’s Theatre) stars as Belle. Evan Ruggiero co-stars as the Beast; after losing a leg to cancer in his teenage years, Ruggerio continued to pursue a dancing career and has gone on to become a Drama Desk-nominated performer and the self-proclaimed “Lord Pegleg.”
The invited press performance is Thursday, November 11 at 8:00 pm. Interested critics may reserve two tickets by emailing sstraub[at]olneytheatre.org. Tickets are available from $42 - $99 and can be purchased at olneytheatre.org or 301-924-3400.
For decades, Disney and specifically its Beauty and the Beast have defined "beauty" for children all over the world. Marcia Milgrom Dodge’s production aims to celebrate “beauty” in all its forms. Milgrom Dodge has a long track record of "smuggling in" a deeper meaning to classic stories, and uncovering the burning, contemporary truths beneath them. She explained, “Our production celebrates community, authenticity, acceptance, and kindness; and with the help of a few magic spells, provides a thoroughly inclusive, 2021 ‘Happily Ever After.’”
Says Olney Theatre’s Artistic Director Jason Loewith, “Throughout the years, media in all its forms have defined western notions of ‘beauty.’ As cultural arts workers, we recognize these definitions are limiting and have caused immeasurable harm particularly for women and those differently-abled. Under Marcia’s visionary leadership, this production marks a titanic shift, reimagining a beloved family classic for the time we’re in.”
Nominated for a Tony Award for her 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime, Milgrom Dodge’s work has been seen throughout the United States, in Canada, England, Asia, Denmark, and the Middle East, in theatres both on Broadway and Off-Broadway, and at acclaimed regional theatres such as the New York City Opera, the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Her work has won Helen Hayes, Carbonell, Los Angeles Drama Critics, Backstage Garland, Dora Mavor, New York Outer Critics Circle, and Daytime Emmy Awards and she has been nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, Astaire, Drama League, Barrymore, and Edgar Awards. She is an executive board member of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society and a published and produced playwright. Dodge is also a featured director on the new Disney+ reality show, Encore!
Choreographer Josh Walden reunites with Milgrom Dodge after serving as Associate Director/Choreographer on the 2009 revival of Ragtime. He has choreographed an episode of Encore! on Disney+, as well as various productions at the Kennedy Center, Drury Lane Theatre, Signature Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the Tisch School of the Arts. Walden’s Director/Choreographer credits include A Chorus Line (Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, and Theatre Memphis), Legally Blonde (Merry-Go-Round Playhouse), On the Town (Capital City Theatre), and the rock opera Fallen Angel, which won Best Musical at the International Fringe Festival. As a performer, Walden has been seen in the Broadway revivals of 42nd Street, La Cage aux Folles, A Chorus Line, and Ragtime. His dance company, Josh Walden Dance Theatre, received an honorable mention for Direction and Choreography at the New York Musical Theatre Festival for its production of All Is Love.
Award-winning music director Walter “Bobby” McCoy currently works with young artists as a faculty member with both Adventure Theatre MTC and Levine Music School. His music direction credits include The Wild Party at Constellation Theatre Company, Caroline, or Change and Once On This Island at Creative Cauldron, A Christmas Story, My Fair Lady, and Mame at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, and American Idiot and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Little Butterfly Theatre. McCoy earned a Helen Hayes Award in 2017 for his music direction of In the Heights at GALA Hispanic Theatre, as well as a nomination for his work on Old Wicked Songs at 1st Stage in 2015.
Performer Jade Jones is sure to enchant audiences in the role of Belle as she makes her return to the Olney stage. DC theatre-goers have recently seen her in The Amen Corner at Shakespeare Theatre Company, School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play at Round House Theatre, Into The Woods and The Wiz at Ford’s Theatre, As You Like It at The Keegan Theatre, and Sweeney Todd at Rep Stage. She has been nominated for three Helen Hayes Awards, including two in 2020 for her roles in School Girls (Nana) and Into the Woods (Little Red Ridinghood).
Evan Ruggiero will play opposite Jones in his role as the Beast. Ruggiero began dancing at the age of five in his hometown studio and by age ten, was accepted into the New Jersey Tap Ensemble. Upon being diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his right leg during his sophomore year at Montclair State University, he was suddenly faced with amputation in order to stop the cancer and save his life. Eighteen months after the amputation, and only two days after receiving his “peg-leg,” Evan was tap dancing again. In 2018 he received a Drama Desk Nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, a Chita Rivera Award Nomination for Best Dancer in a Musical, and was awarded a Clive Barnes Award in Theatre for his portrayal of Tom Jones in NYC’s off-broadway hit Bastard Jones. That year, he also performed at Carnegie Hall and the 90th Oscars. He has performed for notable individuals such as Ellen Degeneres, President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden, Egypt’s sixth and current president, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and recently performed alongside Grammy winning artist Jason Mraz.
Olney Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast will also feature Michael Burrell as Gaston, Bobby Smith (Elf) as Lumiere, Dylan Arredondo (National Players Alumnus) as Cogsworth, John Sygar (Once) as Lefou, Iyona Blake as Mrs. Potts and Miranda Pepin (National Players Alumna) as Chip, Jessica Lauren Ball (Cabaret) as Madame de la Grande Bouche, Sasha Olinick as Maurice and Hailey Ibberson as Babette. The ensemble includes: Conor James Reilly, Rick Westerkamp, Ariel Messeca, Michael Wood, Selena Clyne-Galindo, Erica Leigh Hansen, Quynh-My Luu, Tyler White, and Megan Tatum; with Shiloh Orr and Graciela Rey as swings. The production showcases fight choreography by Robb Hunter, scenic design by Narelle Sissons, costume design by Ivania Stack, wig design by Ali Pohanka, lighting design by Colin K. Bills, and sound design by Matt Rowe. John Keith Hall is the Stage Manager.
Masks and proof of COVID vaccination are required at all Olney Theatre performances. Those under 12 who are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine must be masked and accompanied by a vaccinated adult. We do not accept proof of a recent negative COVID test in lieu of vaccination. Visit OlneyTheatre.org/vax for more information.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Book by Linda Woolverton
Directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge
Music Direction by Walter “Bobby” McCoy
Choreography by Josh Walden
November 5, 2021 - January 2, 2022
Tickets: $42-$99 available at olneytheatre.org and 301-924-3400
Socially distanced seating is available in the Mezzanine at all performances
BEHIND THE SCENES EVENTS for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
BEAUTY AND THE BODY
Monday, November 8th, 7:00 - 8:30pm, Free
What makes a body beautiful on stage or screen, and who decides? Casting Directors weigh in.
From Hollywood glamour to Disney princesses, western constructs of beauty are inextricably linked to the images we see on our screens and on our stages, and those images heavily impact us culturally. Is it possible for these media to help American culture expand its definition of beauty in a more inclusive way, taking into account race, body type and ability? We ask a panel of casting directors from LA, New York and DC to answer the question.
OPENING NIGHT DIALOGUE: A conversation with Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge
Thursday, November 11th, 5:00 - 6:00 pm,
Free for Olney Theatre members / $10 General Public
Tony-nominee Marcia Milgrom Dodge, who helmed our award-winning production of Once back in 2018-19, is a nationally-recognized interpreter of the musical-theater canon. In her words, she “smuggles in” the deeper meaning of classic texts to uncover the burning, contemporary truths beneath them. Artistic Director Jason Loewith interviews Marcia onstage about her career, and how her production of Beauty and the Beast expands the definition of beauty for 2021.
EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC OF BEAUTY & THE BEAST BACKSTAGE!
Saturday, November 13th, 5:00 -6:00 pm,
Free for Olney Theatre members/$10 General Public
Dancing candlesticks, magic roses, moving teacups… how does a professional theater bring the magic behind Beauty & the Beast to life? We want to show you! So we’re inviting folks of every age to come on stage and see how we do it. Lighting demonstrations, costume and prop displays, scenery moves… our professional production staff leads you on an inspiring tour through the backstage magic. RSVP early; this annual event tends to sell out fast!