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Video: Cast Members of DANCE NATION at Olney Theatre Center Discuss Their Approach to Playing Tweens

Clare Barron's play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a hit off-Broadway in 2018.

Dance Nation by Clare Barron and directed by Jenna Place opened Olney Theatre Center's 84th season in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. The production is scheduled to run through Sunday October 30, 2022. Tickets are available online at olneytheatre.org or at 301-924-3400.

The cast of Dance Nation discusses how they approached the challenge of playing tweens in a play that speaks to the insecurities and wild ambition of adolescence.

Watch below!

Clare Barron's play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a hit off-Broadway in 2018.

As written by Ms. Booth, the participants of a competitive tween dance team in Liverpool, Ohio are played by actors of all ages -- in this production that includes ensemble members in their early 20s to those in their late 60s. As they prepare for an upcoming competition, the urgent questions confronting the girls range from those of status - who will get to dance the lead role? To those that beset all pubescent kids: what's happening to my body? Am I ahead or behind? Who will I become? That the action is delivered by distinctly adult actors, those questions also become, who was I?

The diverse ensemble includes longtime veterans of Olney Theatre Center, including Brigid Cleary (more than 40 Olney credits over 40 years) and MaryBeth Wise (over a dozen productions, dating back to National Players Tour 41 in 1989) as Ashlee and Maeve respectively. Megan Graves as Sofia and Michael Wood as Dance Teacher Pat, are also familiar to Olney audiences having appeared in last season's The Thanksgiving Play and Disney's Beauty and the Beast respectively. Making their Olney debuts are Yesenia Igelsias as all of the Moms as well as the ill-fated dancer Vanessa; Jasmine Joy as Amina, Shubhangi Kuchibhotla as Connie, Ashley D. Nguyen as Zuzu, and Louis E. Davis as the team's sole boy dancer, Luke.

The show is directed by Jenna Place, who knows a thing or two about high-pressure competition from her time as a nationally ranked alpine skier. Having moved on in college to a theatre career, Ms. Place joined the Olney Theatre staff as Associate Artistic Director/Casting Director in 2017. She has directed for National Players, Theater J, Rep Stage, Theater Alliance, Adventure Theater, Forum Theater, Imagination Stage, and Monumental Theatre. She is also a well-known freelance casting director who has worked with many theatre companies in the DMV.

On the creative team, Nikki Mirza serves as both the Choreographer and the Assistant Director; Paige Hathaway is the scenic designer, and Moyenda Kulemeka the costume designer; Kenny Neal is the sound designer, and lights are designed by Sarah Tundermann. Bailey Howard is the production stage manager.




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