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When people think of theater, they think of Broadway and maybe the famous theaters in the major cities like The Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theater and Arena Stage in Washington, DC. There are also quality performances being presented at performing arts centers all around the country.
Here in Maryland we have a fabulous center in Olney, Maryland called the Olney Theater Center. It is about eleven or so miles off the beltway and it is worth the drive. Cathy and I have seen several plays there and they have all been of high quality.
Earlier today we saw a reprisal of the 1961 Tony award-winning play, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” It was an immensely entertaining show full wonderful singing, dancing, and humor. Cathy goes to Arena Stage regularly and she claims that productions at Olney are equal, in every way, to the ones at the more famous theater.
This play had a fine cast that includes a highly talented fellow that hails from my home area. Dan Van Why grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley and he graduated from Wyoming Valley West Senior High. Dan already has many great roles under his belt, including a Helen Hayes Award nomination for his portrayal of Joe Miller in “National Pastime,” and for being part of the” Rent” ensemble that won the Helen Hayes Outstanding Ensemble award. Dan also played in classics like “Big River” and “Peter Pan,” and he was falling-down funny in “Spelling Bee.”
In “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Dan plays Bud Frump, the sniveling and conniving nephew of the company president. This is a satire of the 1960’s business world, so Dan’s portrayal was not of an evil character, but more than of a tongue-in-cheek weasel-like character. His singing and dancing are high quality, but what I think makes his performance stand out are his facial expressions and physical movements. He will look at the audience and give you that silly evil smile or the shocked look which connects with you immediately.
For my friends in NEPA, Dan Van Why is a favorite son, and you shouldn’t miss him performing on stage. It is just a few hours’ drive to Maryland and it will be worth the effort. The performance closes in a week, but Dan will be back on stage at the Olney Theater from July 17 to August 4 in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” It is sure to be a great show.
This is the website for information and ticket reservation for “The Tempest.”
See the play and get Dan to sign your program, who knows it may be quite valuable someday.