Linda and Scot Whitney, respectively the artistic director and managing artistic director of Harlequin Productions, announced that company’s upcoming season at their annual Eclectica! benefit on April 1. “You will note,” says Linda Whitney, “that rain appears to be theme. Rain cools, cleanses, restores, depresses, compresses, challenges and can even delight.” It sounds like it’s time to grab our umbrellas and make plans to buy season tickets. The shows planned for 2017-2018, with annotations provided by Harlequin Productions, are as follows:
The Stardust Christmas Fandango, December 2017
Written by Harlowe Reed, directed by Linda Whitney and musically directed by Bruce Whitney.
Set in December 1961, The Stardust Christmas Fandango will continue the annual celebration of American pop music for the holidays.
I Am My Own Wife, January 2018
Written by Doug Wright and directed by Aaron Lamb.
Based on a true story and inspired by interviews conducted by the playwright over several years, I Am My Own Wife tells the fascinating tale of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a real-life German transvestite who managed to survive both the Nazi onslaught and the repressive East-German Communist regime.
It won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and the 2004 Tony Award. “I Am My Own Wife revels in a particular time and place, but it is more than a historical document. The play is a vivid portrait of a unique person whose ability to endure has been turned into a highly theatrical journey.”—Associated Press. “A truly remarkable experience in the theatre, I Am My Own Wife is a must-see…(It’s) an experience that is intellectual, theatrical, funny and poignant…(The) integrity of his writing provokes us to think, it teaches us a history we never knew we had, and without forgiveness and sentiment unravels the story of one life.”—NYTheatre.com.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, March 2018
Based on the novel by Garth Stein, adapted by Myra Platt and directed by Linda Whitney.
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: A philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively and listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race-car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the racetrack, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he’s sure he’ll return as a man. A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life as only a dog could tell it.
Three Days of Rain, May 2018
Written by Richard Greenberg and directed by Scot Whitney.
In 1995, a year after he disappeared on the day of his father’s funeral, Walker Janeway returns to New York. He takes up temporary residence in the unused space where 35 years earlier, his father, Ned, and Ned’s late partner, Theo, both architects, designed and lived in the great house that would make them famous. Walker scours the space for clues to the tortured family history. Discovering his father’s journal hidden under the bed, he finds it as unforthcoming as his nearly silent father had been. Walker is joined by his sister, Nan, and Pip, Theo’s son, to hear the reading of Ned’s will. It’s there that Walker forces the confrontation that the others need. In the second act we travel back to 1960, when Ned’s journal began, and meet the parents at the same age their children are in Act One. In the guise of a love story, we’re offered all the information needed to devise an alternative reading of the sad, unexpectedly romantic family story.
The Magical Mystery Midsummer Musical, June or July 2018
A 30-year retrospective of the work of composer Bruce Whitney.
After years as a rock musician and songwriter, Harlequin musical director Bruce Whitney began composing music for theater when his sister-in-law, Linda Whitney, invited him to score a production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in the summer of 1988. Since then he’s composed music and songs for over 30 productions including A Rock ‘n’ Roll Twelfth Night, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night written with his brother Scot. He has musically directed every Stardust Christmas show since 2001, and he also performs in those shows as the nightclub’s band leader. His work includes, not only underscoring and scene-change music, but a considerable number and variety of songs. In 2018 Harlequin Productions is celebrating his 30th anniversary in theater with a show that features his music as performed by great singers, along with the magic of illusion and aerial artists to explore the mysteries of inspiration.
Ruthless! The Mother of All Musicals, August 2018
Written by Marvin Laird and Joel Paley and directed and musically directed by Aaron Lamb.
Eight-year-old Tina Denmark knows she was born to play Pippi Longstocking, and she’ll do anything to win the part in her school musical. In this case, “anything” includes murdering the leading lady. This aggressively outrageous, hit musical garnered rave reviews during its long, Off-Broadway run. “A spoof that has enough absurd plot twists and multiple identities to fill several old movies…The fun comes from the sheer brazenness!”—The New York Times. “Hilarious…It is beyond praise!”—New York Daily News. “Wild amusement.”—New York Post. “A demented pleasure. Cheery, cheeky burlesque humor that evokes Your Show of Shows.”—New York Newsday. “Merry mayhem…Malicious, delicious and a total joy.”‐New York Observer. “A wonderfully smart and funny sendup of every Broadway brat from Gypsy to The Bad Seed…loaded with campy wit and charm.”—Variety
A Steady Rain, October 2018
Written by Keith Huff and directed by Scot Whitney.
A dark duologue filled with sharp storytelling and biting repartee, A Steady Rain explores the complexities of a lifelong bond tainted by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey and Denny have been best friends since kindergarten and, after working together for several years as policemen in Chicago, they’re practically family. Joey helps out with Denny’s wife and kids; Denny keeps Joey away from the bottle. But when a domestic-disturbance call takes a turn for the worse, their friendship is put on the line. The result is a harrowing journey into a moral gray area where trust and loyalty struggle for survival against a sobering backdrop of pimps, prostitutes and criminal lowlifes.
What: Harlequin 2017-2018 Season
Where: Harlequin Productions, 202 4th Ave E, Olympia, WA 98501
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays – Saturdays,
2 p.m. Sundays
How much: $20-$34 (variable)
Learn more: Harlequin Season Subscriptions