Frank Kohel and Micheal O'Hara in The Story of My Life

by Christian Carvajal for OLY ARTS

Actors Frank Kohel and Micheal O’Hara are household names in Tacoma theatrical circles. They’ve already performed two-man musical The Story of My Life at two Gritty City venues, and now Olympia Little Theatre (OLT) audiences get a chance to enjoy the show. Kohel cast O’Hara, whom he’d known for almost 30 years, and together they recruited director Maria Valenzuela.

“I knew I’d be directing directors,” Valenzuela said, “but we were all totally on the same page. It really is made for them and their talents and chemistry. It’s solo piano and a bit of percussion, mostly sound effects, so it has the feel of a radio show. We designed the show so it could be portable. We can pick up our set and take it anywhere, and pop up in a week and a half in that space.”

The show, written by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, was first produced in Toronto in 2006. Its story follows six-year-old friends Alvin (Kohel) and Thomas (O’Hara) into middle age. With no other characters visible on stage, the show rests squarely on their shoulders. “I wouldn’t want to do it with lesser talents,” Valenzuela agrees. “I can really trust these guys’ chemistry and ability to tell their stories. It’s not about lighting effects and ‘wow factor’ and choreography. That would distract from the intent.”

This show follows closely on the opening of The Last Five Years, another musical two-hander, at Harlequin Productions. “Neither story is told solely in the present or in the past. They both go back and forth. They were written right around the same time and are virtually sung through. Ours is kind of Sondheim-ian. There are songs that just hit me in every rehearsal. There’s a song Micheal sings at 11 years old. He’s singing a book report on a book his friend Alvin has given him. You hear a voice crack. He just took that and embodied the character. There’s always something that makes me cry, something that makes me laugh, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. And that’s several dozen times.”

Note: OLT’s evening shows this year have moved from 7:55 p.m. to 7:25 p.m.

What: The Story of My Life

Where:  Olympia Little Theatre,
1925 Miller Ave., Olympia

When: 7:25 p.m. Sept. 8-10 and 15-17;
1:55 p.m. Sept. 11 and 18

How much: $9-$15

Learn more: 360-786-9484 |