When Arena Stage inaugurated its Mead Center for American Theater in 2010, critics and audiences alike were wowed by the company’s production of Oklahoma!, directed by Arena’s artistic director, Molly Smith. In the production, which broke box office records and was named one of the top ten performances of the year by the New Yorker, one particular performer stood out: then-16-year-old June Schreiner. The Reston native shone in her role as Ado Annie, so much so that The Washingtonian’s Leslie Milk called her “so appealing that [she] threatens to steal the show.”
Schreiner, who cut her theatrical teeth in performances at Synetic Family Theater and the Mclean Community Players, enjoyed juggling eight weekly performances of Oklahoma! with a full school schedule, she told us earlier this year. “I thought it would be hard . . . but I get so excited every time,” she said. “Putting on the costumes is sort of treacherous, and the corset is deathly. But once you get onstage, it’s amazing.” Now the girl who once kept a calculus textbook backstage has a new role: Arena announced today that Schreiner has been cast as Muriel in next year’s production of Ah, Wilderness. The romantic comedy by Eugene O’Neill will be directed by Kyle Donnelly, and features the coming of age of Richard, a 17-year-old in love with the girl next door (Schreiner).
The production comes toward the end of Schreiner’s senior year, and although a career on the stage seems inevitable, she has her sights set on college, like her idol, Natalie Portman. “I’ve promised myself that,” she said last year. “Maybe not right away. Just being with this cast is so inspiring because they’ve taken this risk, and it isn’t always an easy life. But I don’t have a moment on the stage I don’t like.”