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The Story of My Life

A preview of the new two-person musical at OLT

Frank Kohel, left, and Micheal O’Hara, right, star in The Story of My Life. Photo courtesy KT Patt

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The Story of My Life by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill opens tonight at Olympia Little Theatre. This rarely produced musical follows a lifelong friendship of Alvin Kelby (Frank Kohel) and Thomas Weaver (Micheal O'Hara). It is directed by Maria Valenzuela.

The two boys grow up together. One stays in their hometown to run his father's bookshop, the other becomes a famous and well-travelled writer. After time apart, and after Alvin's mysterious death, they relive their lives' adventures through music.

"After working on previous projects together, Micheal and Frank brought this script to me several years ago," Valenzuela said. The actors shared how important and relevant they thought this musical was for them personally and professionally and asked if she would consider directing them in it.

"We tabled it for a while to work on other projects, both together and separately, and determined in the spring of 2015 that it was time to tackle this very poignant and personal show." In September 2015, they presented a staged reading of the show for the first presentation of Tacoma Little Theatre's "Off the Shelf" series. "It was very successful. We then took the show for a fully-staged production at Dukesbay Theatre in Tacoma for a two-week run, where directors from many local theaters were able to witness this story for the first time. Members of the board at OLT were in the audience and asked us if we would consider bringing this production to their theater, and here we are, opening the OLT season with a polished-up, re-blocked version."

Valenzuela said, "I always enjoy an opportunity to work with predominantly-male casts. It's just a different dynamic. There is a lot of trust that must be developed very early on. Whether in large operas or intimate theater, the opportunity to help our male actors reach some of their most vulnerable and human places that can often be quite guarded is very special. Micheal and I have had the opportunity to explore this together before in the 18-man production of Captains Courageous. For Frank and I, this is a first. And the two of them together are simply magic. There are very few dry eyes walking out of the theater when the lights go down on these performances."

O'Hara was recently seen in OLT's A Night on Broadway with his wife, Sharry O'Hare. He is a theater veteran of 30 years acting and directing. Past performances include Cervantes in Man of la Mancha at Renton Civic and Seattle Musical Theatre, Engineer in Miss Saigon at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Michael Minetti in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks at Tacoma Little Theatre, and Fredrick in A Little Night Music at Second Story Rep.

Kohel has been seen at the Fifth Avenue, Seattle Opera, Bathhouse, Group Theatre, New City Theatre, Seattle Fringe Festival, Village Theatre, Artswest - in Los Angeles, New York City, Disneyland, and on tours of North Asia and the United States.  

Valenzuela is an award-winning actor, singer, and stage and musical director who has performed throughout the United States and abroad. She is the director of music and drama at Saint Patrick School in Tacoma, and has served as the music director, choreographer, and performance and presentation coach for the Daffodil Festival Royal Court for the past 11 years.

The Story of My Life, 7:25 p.m., Thursday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday, through Sept. 18, Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia, tickets $18-$20, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr., Olympia, 360.786.9484, olympialittletheater.org

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