A New Season of Resilience for Live Theater in Olympia

By Alec Clayton

Harlequin Productions calls its 2023 seson a “Resilience Season.” That appellation could well apply to all local, live theaters surviving shutdowns and reopenings with required mask wearing and proof of vaccination. Our local theaters are indeed resilient, and their 2022-23 seasons look to be outstanding.


Harlequin will renovate its State Theater this spring and perform atCenter at South Puget Sound Community College while remodeling, beginning with Ken Ludwig’s mystery comedy Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Jan. 27 to Feb. 11 — a takeoff on The Hound of the Baskervilles, by the writer of such comedic gems as Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo, directed by Corey McDaniel.

Next up is the professional world premiere Building Madness by regional playwright Kate Danley, a screwball comedy like those of Hollywood’s golden era. In May, Harlequin presents Hundred Days by Abigail Nessen-Bengson, Sarah Gancher and Shaun Bengson, a folk-punk musical directed by Aaron Lamb and featuring local artist Amy Shephard and her band Sugar and the Spitfires.

From June 30 to July 15, it’s Falsettos, a hilarious and poignant look at the infinite possibilities that make up a modern family. This one grabbed a 1992 Tony award for best score and best book of a musical.

Then, from September 8 to 23, 2023, Harlequin presents The Revolutionists, by Lauren Gunderson, at the Washington Center Black Box, directed by Lauren Love. In October comes a top-secret show, followed by an undetermined holiday special in November.

DETAILS: Harlequin Productions | 360-786-0151 | harlequinproductions.org


OFT’s season opened with The Secret Garden, the modern classic but presented from a Latinx viewpoint with punks, Spanglish and puppets, through Oct. 16.

Next up for this all-ages company is Dragons Love Tacos Nov. 4-20, a modern adaptation of the classic children’s book set here in the Pacific Northwest. In December it’s a solstice coproduction with String & Shadow Puppet Theater, Nyx and the Long Night.

Coming up in February is Something Happened in Our Town, a family-friendly play about racial injustice, followed by The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus, about five friends and a coyote who want to save the world. Watch for Alice in Wonderland: A New Musical, an imaginative musical twist on the classic tale, witten by Lavinia Roberts with music by Ahmed Alaqbaca.

DETAILS: Olympia Family Theater | 612 Fourth Ave. | olyft.org


Six plays are on tap for Olympia Little Theatre: Leaving Iowa, Oct. 21 to Nov. 6; One Christmas Eve at Evergreen Mall, Dec. 2-18; The Man From Earth, Jan. 27 to Feb. 12; One Slight Hitch, March 10-26; Into the Breeches! April 21 to May 7 and In the Gutter, June 2-18.

OLT artistic director Kendra Malm says, “I’m really excited about this season. The Man From Earth really intrigued me when I read it, the whole premise of someone living for 10,000 years and what you do with all of that time and experience. But I’ve always been a big science fiction fan, so this one was a natural choice for inclusion, even if it is a challenging piece. Into the Breeches! will be a fun one, and hopefully make people think about gender roles. And the one I’m directing, In the Gutter, is a really offbeat mix of noir and farce that I think people will enjoy. Plus, I believe that this will actually be just the second production of it, and the West Coast premiere, as it’s something John Morogiello wrote during the pandemic.”

DETAILS: Olympia Little Theatre
1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia | olympialittletheater.org


With performances in the Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts, SPSCC offers up an exciting 2022-2023 season, starting with Jen Silverman’s The Moors opening Nov. 11 on the main stage. Two sisters and a dog live out their lives on the bleak English moors, dreaming of love and power. The arrival of a hapless governess and a moor-hen set them on a strange and dangerous path. The Moors is a dark comedy about love, desperation and visibility starring Paige Doyle, Meghan Goodman, Katelyn May, Anna Holbrook, Mike Gregory and Kimberlee Wolfson.

Drama professor Lauren Love says The Moors is “an irreverent comedy featuring women challenging power structures and human and nonhuman characters searching for meaning. (It) promises profundity inside of fun and feels like a great way to launch our season.”

Coming in February is Far Away by Caryl Churchill, in “a poetic, theatrical allegory that confronts the human capacity to create enemies and justify cruelty,” according to Love. Following Far Away in May is the Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park With George.

DETAILS: SPSCC | 2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia | spscc.edu/arts-comm/drama


BOP’s new season is not yet finalized, but founder and managing director Kyle Murphy says there will be six to seven shows including three to four musicals and three to four by their new producing partner, Theater Artists Olympia. “We’re likely bringing back Jeff Bell, musical director from our first season, and we’re looking at working with Kathy Dorgan on two shows,” Murphy says. “A few months ago, I was approached by the stars of (Tacoma Musical Playhouse’s) production of In the Heights, as well as the musical director from that show, and asked to help them produce a minimalist version of The Last 5 Years. That is going to happen spring 2023. It will be directed by Melanie Gladstone, who recently directed The Diary of Anne Frank at Lakewood Playhouse and choreographed several shows for BOP in our first season, including Rocky Horror.”

DETAILS: Broadway Olympia Productions | BOP performance space in Capital Mall | broadwayolympia.com

Olympia Family Theater, Secret Garden
Olympia Family Theater, Secret Garden

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