Arts & Culture

Little Theater offers classic and cutting-edge work

Olympia Little Theatre is pretty cutting-edge for a 68-year-old.

The community theater company is known for classic murder mysteries and broad comedies such as the season-opening "Moon Over Buffalo," running through Oct. 7, but it also wraps up each season with a riskier production that is not part of the regular subscription package.

"It's a way to broaden our audience but also to broaden the experience of people who are traditional season ticketholders," said Toni Holm, the theater's treasurer.

Last year's choice, "Take Me Out," broadened the experience of many South Sound theatergoers. The play about a homosexual baseball player includes male nudity in shower and locker-room scenes and got plenty of praise and attention.

"It's beautifully written, and Tom Sanders (who directed it) did an amazing job," said Kathryn Beall, the theater's co-artistic manager and president of the board. "Some of the old crowd really liked the play."

"Out of 12 shows we did, we got 11 standing ovations," said Chad Carpenter, the theater's co-artistic manager.

"Last year for the first time, we saw a shift, where there were more single-ticket people than season-ticket people, and they were a diverse group," Beall said.

"It was encouraging to me the number of people who bought single tickets last year and bought season tickets this year," Holm added.

This season, the theater is swinging back a bit toward the center (as in "no nudity"), but many of the plays are newer than in past seasons, and it's the first time in a while that the theater is not redoing a past selection.

"Last year, we had a more adventurous feel, and this time, we're coming back a little more to what our mix is," Beall said.

The mix includes Neil Simon ("Rumors," April 25-May 18) and Wendy Wasserstein ("The Sisters Rosensweig," March 7-30).

And the season will end with "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" (June 6-15), an Irish play that mixes black comedy with bleak tragedy and horror.