Entertainment

Olympia Little Theatre celebrates 80 years of theater for all

The cast of Olympia Little Theatre’s “The Consul, the Tramp and America’s Sweetheart,” features John Pratt as Georg Gyssling, Jeremy Hollen as Charlie Chaplin, Sammie “Tiny” Fairbairn as Mary Pickford, and Jodie Chapin as Miss Hollombe.
The cast of Olympia Little Theatre’s “The Consul, the Tramp and America’s Sweetheart,” features John Pratt as Georg Gyssling, Jeremy Hollen as Charlie Chaplin, Sammie “Tiny” Fairbairn as Mary Pickford, and Jodie Chapin as Miss Hollombe. Courtesy of Olympia Little Theatre

Olympia Little Theatre starts its 80th season Friday with “The Consul, the Tramp and America’s Sweetheart,” set in 1939 — the same year the theater produced its first play.

The 2015 play, by John Morogiello, mixes fiction with fantasy to tell the story the German government’s attempt to stop production of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator,” which satirized Adolf Hitler at a time when the horrors of the Holocaust were not fully known abroad.

A lot has changed in entertainment in those years. “Dictator,” released in 1940, was Chaplin’s first talkie after a long career in silent films.

A great deal has stayed the same at Olympia Little Theatre, though.

“People think of the theater as doing a certain kind of play,” said Toni Holm, who serves on the theater’s board and is set to direct “Go Back for Murder,” which will open in June. “But in our history, we’ve always done some new and challenging plays and some older and very well-known ones.

“Now, we are very much trying to have seasons that are balanced.”

This season’s variety includes “Go Back,” written by murder-mystery master Agatha Christie in 1960; “Equivocation,” a 2009 political thriller involving William Shakespeare; and “Falling,” a 2011 drama about a family that includes an autistic young man who’s prone to aggressive outbursts.

Another thing that hasn’t changed is the way the theater, Olympia’s oldest live theater, welcomes everyone to get involved, Holm said.

She got her start with the theater in 2001, when Kathryn Beall, then directing her first play there, asked for her help.

“She called me and said, ‘I’ve got this woman in my play, and she’s supposed to play a vamp, and she’s never worn makeup. Could you help her?’ ” Holm told The Olympian. “That’s how I got sucked in. I did her makeup and costume and hair.”

Beall went on to become the theater’s artistic manager, direct 18 more plays and encourage many other people to get involved. She died in 2017.

“The big tradition at OLT is that it’s open,” Holm said. “We have open auditions. We get brand-new actors. We get people in their 60s who are retired and who acted as young people.”

That’s true both onstage and off, she said. The company does its best to find people to teach beginners who are interested in running lights or sound or working as stage managers.

“It’s accessible to people of any skill level,” she said.

Olympia Little Theatre launches 80th season

Olympia’s oldest live theater is beginning its 80th season this weekend with “The Consul, the Tramp and America’s Sweetheart,” which will run through Sept. 29. It follows a German consul’s attempts to block production of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.”

  • When: Evening shows at 7:25 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and matinees at 1:55 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave NE, Olympia
  • Tickets: $9-$15
  • Season tickets: Season subscribers who buy tickets to at least five plays save $2 per ticket.
  • More information: 360-786-9484, olympialittletheater.org
  • Get involved: To get more information about getting involved in the theater, email oltadmin@olympialittletheatre.org.

The rest of the shows

  • “Vino Veritas” (Oct. 25-Nov. 10) tells a tale of two couples who drink a wine that forces them to speak only the truth.
  • “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (Dec. 7-23) is a sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
  • “Equivocation” (Feb. 7-23) finds William Shakespeare caught up in political machinations.
  • “The Bold, the Young and the Murdered” (March 20-April 5) mixes mystery with farce.
  • “Falling” (May 7-17) is a family drama that explores the challenges of loving someone who is difficult to love.
  • “Go Back for Murder” (June 12-28), by Agatha Christie, tells the story of a woman attempting to solve the mystery of her father’s death 15 years earlier.

80th birthday party

  • What: Olympia Little Theatre celebrates 80 years of live theater with a gala including entertainment, a silent auction, bubbly, hors d’oeuvres and more.
  • When: 6:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5
  • Where: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave NE, Olympia
  • Tickets: $20-$25
  • More information: 360-786-9484, olympialittletheater.org
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