by Tom Simpson
On August 16, Harlequin Productions opens the musical Ruthless! – The Stage Mother of all Musicals.
Ruthless! is a unique all female musical. The story spoofs the genre of classic Broadway musicals that feature an ambitious young female lead, embodied by well-known shows like Annie, Gypsy and Mame, as well as movies that embody this genre, like All About Eve.
The musical originally premiered 0ff-Broadway and received multiple Drama Desk and Critics Circle Awards. The show is largely a campy musical farce that turns rapid plot corners in search of quick laughs. Multiple identities, hidden agendas, front-of-curtain stage mothers and cross-dressing cast members add to the hilarity.
“A spoof that has enough absurd plot twists and multiple identities to fill several old movies…The fun comes from the sheer brazenness!” wrote Stephen Holden in The New York Times when the show premiered in 1992.
Ruthless focuses on the story of eight-year-old Tina Denmark, who was born to be a star, and will do anything to get there. This is the singular musical in history that can legitimately claim to have launched the careers of Britney Spears, Laura Bell Bundy and Natalie Portman. All three actresses were featured in the lead role of Denmark before each of them achieved film or pop music fame.
In the Harlequin Production, the role of Tina Denmark will be played Aubrey Thomas, last seen in 5th Avenue’s The Sound of Music and Seattle Children’s Theatre’s Shrek. Embodying a role that has been described as a “psychopathic latter-day Shirley Temple,” Thomas has her work cut out for her.
Although the show was originally written for an all female cast, it has become a tradition to have the role of Sylvia St. Croix performed by a man simply because Joel Vig gave the best audition for the original 1992 production. In the Harlequin production, Gregory Conn is the sole male voice on stage.
In Harlequin’s production, the rest of the cast of eight female roles are played by six actors. Actors who have previously appeared on the Harlequin stage, who are also in this production, include Eleise Moore, Gregory Conn, and Janette Oswald.
Over the last fifteen years, Harlequin’s annual set of productions is usually composed of non-musical ‘straight’ plays, spiced up by the annual Stardust revue during the holidays and a summer revue or Shakespeare-inspired musical. In the last five years, however, Harlequin has begun to stage additional mainstage musicals. The two-person musical The Last Five Years and the hilarious farce Little Shop of Horrors were featured in 2016, and the romantic comedy First Date premiered at Harlequin in 2017.
Ruthless! – The Stage Mother of all Musicals
August 16 – September 15, 2018
Sun matinees, 2:00pm
Dates to note:
Opening Night: Thursday, August 16, 8:00pm
Post-show Talkback: Sunday, August 26, 2018 at 2:00pm
Pay-What-You-Can: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 8:00pm
Ladies’ Night Out: Friday, August 24, 2018 at 8:00pm
Pride Night: Friday, August 31, 2018 at 8:00pm
202 4th Ave East, Olympia, WA 98501
General admission tickets: $42
Senior 60+/Military: $38
Student/Youths Under 25: $25
Rush Tickets (half-hour prior to showtime): $15, $12 Senior/Military/Student/Under 25