Olympic Theatre Arts premieres “Death of a Salesman” tonight. Leads Jennifer Horton, cast as Linda Loman, and Joel Hoffman, cast as Willy Loman, rehearse a scene from the upcoming production. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Olympic Theatre Arts premieres “Death of a Salesman” tonight. Leads Jennifer Horton, cast as Linda Loman, and Joel Hoffman, cast as Willy Loman, rehearse a scene from the upcoming production. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Award-winning ‘Death of a Salesman’ hits Olympic Theatre Arts stage

Drama portrays tragedy, tangible human experiences

SEQUIM — “Death of a Salesman” opens at Olympic Theatre Arts tonight.

The cast and directors call it “the pinnacle of American plays.” Written by Arthur Miller in 1949, “Death of a Salesman” won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best play that year.

The Sequim show is directed by Merv Wingard, who said the anniversary of this play will fall during the day of Sunday’s performance.

Show times run from tonight through Feb. 24 at Caldwell Main Stage at Olympic Theatre Arts, 414 N. Sequim Ave.

Pay-What-You-Will Night is Thursday. Talk-Back Night is at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21.

Tickets are $18 for the general public, $16 for OTA members and $12 for students with school identification card, and are available at the theater box office from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays or online at olympic theatrearts.org/OTA.

Wingard said he’s acted in this play before and directed a reader’s theater version of it in the past. He believes the story of Willy Loman is important in today’s culture because it’s relatable to what people go through in life.

The story revolves around the character of Loman, a failing salesman, who doesn’t understand how he failed to win success and happiness in his life.

“[Loman’s] lost the meaning for his own life,” Wingard said. “We want to make this play about real people.”

He describes the play as a “modern American tragedy” — similar to what people love about William Shakespeare’s tragedies “MacBeth” and “Hamlet.”

“We’re watching a person deteriorate, and at the same time an idea of what the solution is is right there,” Wingard said.

Joel Hoffman is playing Loman.

He is a newcomer to OTA’s stage and said this is his first time on stage in several years. In the past, he’s had experience performing in musicals.

The show gives an inside look at what’s going on in Loman’s mind as it’s crumbling and Hoffman said it can get a little dark.

“He’s very complicated,” Hoffman said. “He’s losing his dream and his mind is starting to deteriorate.”

Hoffman said the role is challenging with a lot of lines and playing a lead is a steep learning curve.

He is accompanied by a full cast on stage, including Jennifer Horton as Linda Loman, Kelsi Chambers as Ms. Forsythe, Zach Mohlar as Bernard, Karen Reeder as The Woman (Willy’s extra-marital affair), Alison Cobb as both Letta and Jenny, Joe Schulz as Charley, Michael Sickles as Happy, Mark Valentine as Uncle Ben, Richard Stephens as Howard and Stanley and Randy Powell as Biff.

The show also includes a complex display of lighting to convey the emotions and thoughts running through Loman’s mind.

Experienced lighting technician Ron Coffman said he was thrilled to do the lights for this show, a production he said is “like the like Mona Lisa of theater.”

He said, “If you ever get a chance to do [this play], you do it; it’s a dream show.”

Coffman said his main job for the show is to make sure the audience understands what is going on in the story from one scene to the next.

For more information, call Olympic Theatre Arts at 360-683-7326.

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