Theater

  • Barney Carey Gets His Wings at Olympia Family Theater
    Olympia Family Theater’s executive director Mark Alford who plays Barney’s dad in “Barney Carey Gets His Wings” said, “The show is hilarious, but it doesn’t sacrifice any heart. At its core [it] is a discussion of self-identity and self-expression.”
  • Deathtrap by Ira Levin: Murder Most Queer at the State Theater
    Once the action begins at State Theater, you’ll find yourself in the post-and-beam framed, antique-studded, expensively repurposed barn that serves as the living room/study of playwright Sidney Bruhl. Harlequin Productions’ Deathtrap by Ira Levin is a classic thriller, with five actors, two acts, and one set. And therein hangs a gun.
  • Gilligan and Gang Make Merry at Mall
    Olympia’s new WineBox Theatre — the grownup wing of Juice Box Theatre — is paying homage to the three-hour tour with “Island Castaway Christmas” at OlyTheater in Capital Mall this Friday and Saturday as a fundraiser for Juice Box, which creates monthly snack-size shows for children 6 and younger.
  • How The Drink Stole Christmas
    The Seafarer at Lakewood Playhouse is a Christmas fable that mightily hoists up the light and the dark on either of its shoulders, resulting in a dark comedy and family drama that still, somehow, defies characterization.
  • Harlequin’s A Christmas Carol Is Evolving
    It’s the third season for Harlequin’s Christmas Carol. Aaron Lamb’s adaptation of the redemption story is both familiar and fresh, and he plans to refine it each year. There’s a twist in casting in this production: The spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future are all female.
  • O Christmas Tea: A British Comedy at the SPSCC Minnaert Center for the Arts
    “Think Mamma Mia with The Three Stooges, plus audience interaction at The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” “Theatre is in its essence an exercise in imagination,” says Alastair Knowles, who plays the eccentric Jamesy. “O Christmas Tea is exactly that, an exercise in imagination, on steroids.” At SPSCC’s Minnaert Center for the Arts on November 25th.
  • Peck Plays Range from Romantic to Ridiculous
    Peck Plays Range from Romantic to Ridiculous at OlyTheater: “It’s quite diverse,” said TAO vice president John Serembe, who’s organizing the event and directing two plays. “There’s a kind of romantic one and kind of a mystery. There’s one that has to do with climate change in a kind of fun, bizarre way. It’s told by trees. There’s one that’s a little bit absurdist with people playing fish. It’s just a real eclectic bunch. There’s a little bit of everything.”
  • Misery – A Darkly Funny Thriller for the Halloween Season
    An author becomes caged by the fan who loves him the most. As days turn into weeks in Stephen King’s Misery at Tacoma Little Theatre, the dynamics between the two shift and change.
  • Every Brilliant Thing at the SPSCC Minnaert Center Black Box Theatre
    Smartly produced and wonderfully performed, Harlequin Productions’ “Every Brilliant Thing” with Eleise Moore is the best of live theatre, up close and personal. It totally engages us in a story that begs to be told and needs to be heard.
  • The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical to Premiere at the Olympia Family Theater
    The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical is full of rock-tinged tunes and is based on the popular book, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Featuring a multigenerational cast, Olympia Family Theater’s production of The Lightning Thief [October 6 – 29] is set to be a show that dazzles the stage with singing, dancing, action and adventure.
  • Lily Raabe Retires and Mark Alford steps in at Olympia Family Theater
    Olympia Family Theater Artistic Director Lily Raabe has resigned to spend more time writing and traveling. The company has hired its first executive director, Olympia actor Mark Alford.
  • Play Reveals Hotel’s Little-Known Story
    On Sept. 16 and 17, locals will get a chance to learn the rest of the story at Bryan Willis’ Hotel Olympian Gala Extravaganza, a play that re-creates the hotel’s grand opening.
  • Preview: Harlequin’s The Revolutionists by Laura Gunderson at The State Theater
    Olympe de Gouges announces at the opening of Harlequin’s “The Revolutionists” that she has an idea for a new play, a comedy, and much of the play follows her attempts to right/write the wrongs of the Revolution in a play “about women showing the boys how revolutions are done.”
  • TAO Returns to the Dark with Mystery
    “It’s a little bit of Halloween in the summer,” said Pug Bujeaud, the play’s director and a TAO mainstay. “It’s fun and quirky and dark. It’s very much an old-school TAO show. The basis of the show is ‘What is a forgivable sin? … What lines do you draw? How do you decide what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors — or people — you have to cut out of your life?”
  • Summer Theater
    Olympia and the surrounding communities are home to many truly stellar theater companies. They are passionate about their work, fabulously talented, truly dedicated, and fiercely hardworking.
  • Fools Travel in a Dream World
    “Comedy and tragedy are just a second apart from each other,” said String and Shadow’s Donald Palardy III, who’s playing one of the fools. “We want people to come and to laugh. That is the goal. It’s like Looney Tunes. Looney Tunes is for kids, but there’s a lot of adult humor, sometimes peeking out of the surface and sometimes just under the surface.”
  • #ThemToo: Animal Fire Theatre’s Measure for Measure
    In Animal Fire Theatre’s Measure for Measure, “… even a casual read of the play makes it clear the Bard had loftier aims than fun and frivolity.”
  • Review: Falsettos at Harlequin
    Falsettos at Harlequin is a sung-through musical. It begins light-hearted and quirky, and soon becomes deadly serious.
  • Capital City Pride: Embracing Sustainability, Diversity and Community Growth
    Capital City Pride 2023 – Embracing Sustainability, Diversity and Community Growth – invites individuals from all walks of life to gather at the Tivoli Fountain on the Capitol Campus at 9 a.m. July 1 for a day of solidarity and positive protest.
  • The Marvel That is Lakewold Gardens
    There’s so much happening at Lakewold Gardens this summer it’s well worth the drive.
  • Leapin’ Lizards!
    “Make no mistake: These are not the killer turkeys from David Attenborough’s Prehistoric Planet (nor our actual, prehistoric planet). No, these are the genetically supercharged Frankenbeasts from the Jurassic movie franchise …”
  • Plays Like Picture Books Come to Life
    “Our shows are colorful and fun and bright and quick,” said Juice Box’s Kate Ayers, who writes and directs the shows. They’re like picture books come to life, and kids are invited to join the action. Next up is “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” opening June 15.
  • In the Gutter at Olympia Little Theater
    “In the Gutter” at Olympia Little Theatre is set to charm the audience with laughs, mayhem and elements of classic film noir.
  • Review: The Half-Life of Marie Curie at Oly Theater
    The Half-Life of Marie Curie, written by Lauren Gunderson and produced by Theater Artists Olympia, is a joyful exploration of a pair of turn-of-the-century women scientists, the celebrated Marie Curie and the less well-known Hertha Ayrton.
  • Review: The Bengson’s Hundred Days At The State Theater
    “Join us as we transform The State Theater into an intimate cabaret for an uncensored, exhilarating, and heartrending true story about embracing uncertainty, taking a leap, and loving as if you only had 100 days to live. With magnetic chemistry and anthemic folk-punk music, creators Abigail and Shaun Bengson explore a fundamental question: how do we make the most of the time that we have?” – Harlequin Productions
  • Review: The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus
    Olympia Family Theater’s excellent production of “The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus” is exquisitely designed with consistently engaging work by the ensemble of 12 adult and kid actors. This is the story of a group of kids who discover an all-important connection and value to the natural world is a compelling tale for all ages.
  • Review: Building Madness at Harlequin Productions
    Desperate to keep their architecture company afloat, Max and Paul hire the mob to build a police retirement home in Kate Danley’s screwball comedy now playing at Harlequin Productions. For people who love those great old comedies from Hollywood’s Golden Era of the 1930s, “Building Madness” is a ticket to hilarity.
  • Composer-coach Shaw tackles ‘House of Mirth’
    Terry Shaw’s musical version of Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth” opens March 4 at Timberline High School. The new musical has a cast of 20 and a 17-piece orchestra.
  • Celebrating Creative Theatre Experience and Kathy Dorgan
    After forty years of productions, and with the upcoming retirement of longtime Artistic Creative Theatre Experience Director Kathy Dorgan, the board of directors invites the community to celebrate at the Anniversary Gala on Saturday, March 11. Students, parents, alumni, supporters, and the business sponsors will join to reminisce on the past collaborations, performances, and creative moments, all while looking forward to the next 40 years and beyond.
  • Baby – a Funny and Powerful Musical About Expectant Mothers at Broadway Olympia Productions
    “I love the show so much,” said actor Carolyn Fry. “It’s a really lovely exploration of three of many, many pathways to parenthood, which is such a personal journey for everyone. There are so many scenes that are relatable for so many people regardless of their circumstances.”
  • OFT whipping up fresh Tales
    “One day there is nothing, and the next day there are six brand-new plays,” said storyteller and impresario Elizabeth Lord, who is curating the festival, which last happened in 2018. “It is mind-boggling. These plays can now be performed elsewhere. They will be scripts that live.”
  • A Plethora of Plays at Tacoma Little Theater Companies Converge on Tacoma for the first round of this year’s AACTFEST competition
    Five Washington state Theatre companies converge on Tacoma to present five one-hour plays in competition for American Association of Community Theatre’s top regional honors over one weekend in February.
  • Review: Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Harlequin Productions at the State Theater
    Harlequin Productions’ “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” an “adventure in theater making itself,” theater magic itself, that will take children of all ages on a giddy, breath-taking, uproarious ride, over, under, behind, and through the fourth wall, stopping at nothing that does not surprise, astonish, and delight you.
  • Review: Jerome Bixby’s “The Man from Earth” Tackles Life, Love and Philosophy at Olympia Little Theatre
    Science fiction writer Jerome Bixby’s “The Man from Earth” explores the nature of life, culture, faith, philosophy, and human history through the lens of John Oldman, who has lived countless lifetimes, ten years at a time. Olympia Little Theatre’s production of “The Man from Earth” was originally penned as a screenplay by Bixby.
  • Broadway Olympia Productions ‘Taking a Break’
    Broadway Olympia Productions is back — but not for long. The black box theater in Capital Mall will remain open. Theater Artists Olympia (TAO) will take over the lease for its own productions and as a space for other performing arts groups.
  • Review: Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol
    A classic reimagined. So yes, Marley is dead. To save himself from eternal damnation, he is told he must find a way to redeem Ebenezer Scrooge. “Impossible!” TAO’s Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol is a journey of laughter and terror, redemption and renewal.
  • Revels and the Queen of the Americas
    Expect miracles, at least those of the theatrical kind, at The Midwinter Revels in Tacoma’s Rialto Theater this holiday season.
  • Review: One Christmas at the Evergreen Mall at Olympia Little Theatre
    Stealing Baby Jesus, Marly and Scrooge fighting over “A Christmas Carol,” selling fishing rods for Christmas, love lost and found — all of this and more happens at the Evergreen Mall one Christmas Eve.
  • Old Tales Get a Twist in Digital Festival
    “Our community spans all time zones of the United States,” says Olympia actor Stephanie Kamau whose onstage acting experience includes productions at The Evergreen State College and who is now performing in the digital festival of one-act plays, “Twisted Tales.”
  • Review: A Christmas Carol at Harlequin Productions – & – Art by Becky Knold
    “A story about redemption is fundamentally a story about hope,” director Aaron Lamb says. “And forgiveness. May you too find ghosts that change you for the better this holiday season.” Lobby art by Becky Knold.
  • The Washington Center Celebrates a New Interior and Equipment After a Multi-Phase Renovation Project
    The Washington Center celebrates a brand-new interior look, increased seating and new equipment.
  • Review: The Moors at South Puget Sound Community College
    There is evil afoot on the dark and stormy English Moors. And outlandish humor in SPSCC’s “The Moors” by Jen Silverman.
  • Review: Dragons Love Tacos at Olympia Family Theater
    Dragons Love Tacos at Olympia Family Theater is a whimsical and fiery play suitable for all ages based on the popular children’s book.
  • Review: Leaving Iowa at Olympia Little Theatre
    Olympia Little Theatre takes audiences on a trip in search of America with the Brownings, a typical family then and now.
  • Halloween at Harlequin
    You are about to spend an evening with Edgar Allan Poe in a play by Olympia playwright Bryan Willis, plus a reading of a new short story by Olympia’s own Jim Lynch in a one-night-only Halloween celebration at Harlequin.
  • The Armory Creative Campus: An Inclusive Collaborative Space for the Olympia Arts Community
    Olympia begins planning of city arts space.
  • REVIEW: Fun Home at Harlequin Productions
    Harlequin Productions ends their 2021-2022 season with the riveting musical “Fun Home” based on the autobiographical graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel.
  • REVIEW: The Secret Garden at Olympia Family Theater
    Olympia Family Theater with String & Shadow Puppet Theater is performing a modern adaptation of “The Secret Garden.” This one is set this year in the Pacific Northwest and written by award-winning playwright Mabelle Reynoso with a Latinx perspective. And it has punk rock music, talking creatures, magical plants and puppets.
  • A New Season of Resilience for Live Theater in Olympia
    Harlequin Productions calls its 2023 season a “Resilience Season.” That appellation could well apply to all local live theater after more than two years of Covid. Here’s a great season preview for all local theaters, including Harlequin, Olympia Family Theater, Olympia Little Theatre, Broadway Olympia, and SPSCC.
  • REVIEW: Twelfth Night, or What You Will, at Squaxin Park
    by Alec Clayton What better way to welcome theater lovers to the newly named Squaxin Park (formerly Priest Point Park) than a riotous evening of Shakespeare at sunset? It’s even better on a grassy slope with a scrim of trees and a peek of Puget Sound in the background. The play is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will, one of the bard’s most hilarious comedies. As director Rachel Permann, who plays the role of Maria, says in a program note, “We chose this play because it’s fun and totally implausible, and it’s the perfect antidote to the past two …

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  • Broadway Olympia Productions and Theater Artists Olympia Pair Up in The (One-Act) Play That Goes Wrong
    By Alec Clayton and Molly Gilmore Like a theater version of The Odd Couple, the dark and edgy Theater Artists Olympia and the song-and-dance-fueled Broadway Olympia Productions are sharing a home. The theater companies, both sidelined since the pandemic, will each produce work in Broadway Olympia’s black box theater in Capital Mall. The partnership — kicking off Aug. 12 with a TAO-led production of the comic The (One-Act) Play That Goes Wrong — doesn’t mean either company will change its artistic vision. Rather, the unlikely collaborators will coproduce shows, with Broadway Olympia contributing space and administrative support and TAO sharing …

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  • REVIEW: Life Is Complicated at Olympia Little Theatre
    By Alec Clayton Life Is Complicated at Olympia Little Theatre is a play of firsts: a first-time writer and a first-time actor, the best actor in the play in this reviewer’s opinion. Kendra Malm, OLT board president and artistic and production manager, wrote and directed Life Is Complicated. She had never attempted writing a play but, bound and determined, she got a book about playwriting and set to work. It took her six years to write the play, which was inspired by her own experiences coming out as a trans woman. Alex Taft was called upon to fill in for …

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  • Washington Center for the Performing Arts Announces 2022 – 2023 Season
    By Molly Gilmore The Washington Center for the Performing Arts’ 2022-2023 season marks both a return to pre-pandemic norms — it’s the first full season with subscription plans since theaters closed in March 2020 — and a fresh start. When the season launches Nov. 4 with “Stunt Dog Experience,” the center will have a new look for the first time in two decades, with new seats, new carpet, new colors and more. “I’m excited,” said Jill Barnes, the Center’s executive director. “We’re back, and we’re going to be back in a new venue. … My cup has just been so full …

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  • REVIEW: Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Harlequin Productions
    The rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with text by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, started as a performance in drag clubs and became an international phenomenon. It’s now playing at the State Theater of Olympia’s Harlequin Productions, starring Adam Rennie as Hedwig and Mandy Rose Nichøls as Hedwig’s husband and assistant, Yitzhak.
  • REVIEW: Falling at Olympia Little Theatre
    Falling, now playing at Olympia Little Theatre (OLT), is 70 minutes of edge-of-your-seat intensity, a roller coaster of love, fear and laughter with no intermission. If there were an intermission, the audience’s total immersion into the Martin family would be weakened; if it were any longer than 70 minutes, the actors would be physically exhausted and the audience emotionally so. As it is, the time flies by at warp speed and the audience is left depleted, yet thoroughly satisfied.
  • Falling for a Challenging Play at Olympia Little Theatre
    In many ways the Martins, the quintet of characters who populate Deanna Jent’s hour-long, 2011 play Falling, resemble a typical American family. Mother Tami, in some ways a stand-in for Jent herself, is overwhelmed and fond of red wine. Teenage son Josh demands a day off from school. There’s one all-important factor missing from that synopsis, however: Josh is a person with autism, given to veering from giddy hilarity to violent frenzy with little provocation or warning.
  • A Season of Surprises at Olympia Little Theatre
    It’s surprising and delightful when an amateur company chooses an entire slate of obscure material. Such is the case with Olympia Little Theatre (OLT), which will offer a roster of seven shows entirely new to most audience members. Feeling adventurous?
  • Two Tacoma Theaters Announce 2022-23 Seasons
    After two unprecedented pandemic years, most theater organizations in the South Sound decided to schedule full seasons of live entertainment in late 2022 and early 2023. The state of Washington no longer requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter theater spaces, but masks are still required for most patrons. With that in mind and figurative fingers crossed, OLY ARTS is pleased to announce upcoming offerings from Tacoma Little Theatre and Tacoma Musical Playhouse.
  • Celebrating Sovereignty at Harlequin Productions
    This spring, Olympia’s Harlequin Productions is doing something that’s never been done in this area. It’s producing Sovereignty, a historical drama about Native Americans, written and directed by Native Americans, performed by an ensemble of Native and non-Native actors, with direction, set, costume and lighting design by Native artists brought to Olympia from all over the United States.
  • REVIEW: The Originals at Olympia Little Theatre
    Congratulations to local writers Tamara Keeton and Katherine Kelly for undertaking the arduous task of researching The Originals, the true story of the heroic female pilots of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron during World War II, now playing at Olympia Little Theatre.
  • REVIEW: The Paper Moon at Olympia Family Theater
    By Alec Clayton Emerging from its COVID-19 hibernation like Punxsutawney Phil from his hideaway, Olympia Family Theater kicked off its belated season with a pair of excellent shows. Fully Vaxxed, a hilarious trio of one-act plays with important messages, performed at OFT and is now on a tour of Washington state. Then came an astonishing giant-puppet show, The Paper Moon, written and created by String and Shadow Puppet Theater during the early months of the pandemic. The Paper Moon first went up as a drive-in show in a downtown parking lot. OFT has now imported it to its own stage, …

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  • REVIEW: Fully Vaxxed at Olympia Family Theater
    Fully Vaxxed at Olympia Family Theater is one of the funniest, most distinctive and important theatrical events out there. It’s a campaign that will continue and move to other towns after its run at OFT. It’s a plea and a lesson on the importance of vaccinations in the time of COVID-19. It’s a performance of three bilingual, one-act plays running two weekends at OFT, then touring the state.
  • One Thrilling Combination at Tacoma Little Theatre
    A Chorus Line, interrupted for two years but now revived at TLT, is truly one singular sensation.
  • REVIEW: Murder for Two at Harlequin Productions
    Strap in for Murder for Two at Harlequin Productions, 90 minutes of mayhem and laughter — not to mention singing and a lot of amazing hijinks on the piano. Two actors, Jon Lutyens and Katherine Strohmaier, play more than 13 characters in a tour-de-force escapade for both.
  • REVIEW: The Bold, The Young, and The Murdered
    It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between bad acting and good actors playing the part of bad actors — or between a bad script and a play about a badly written show. Audiences at Olympia Little Theatre’s farcical The Bold, the Young, and the Murdered, written by Don Zolidis and directed by Katelyn May, are left to decide for themselves.
  • The British Are Coming, the British Are Coming
    Coming soon to The Washington Center for the Performing Arts is a touring tribute show, The British Invasion — Live on Stage, which includes Shannon McEldowney on keyboards and vocals alongside six other onstage performers.
  • Fully Vaxxed at Olympia Family Theater
    Olympia Family Theater’s Fully Vaxxed, opening March 18, is much more than a theatrical production. The trio of bilingual, one-act plays — which will tour throughout the state and be available for streaming — is part of a public health campaign harnessing the power of art to inspire people to get vaccinated.
  • REVIEW: Clue at Olympia Little Theatre
    By Alec Clayton Nobody, neither the audience nor any guest at Boddy Manor, has a clue who killed whom. Perhaps more accurately, everybody has a clue, but they’re all wrong. Based on the 1985 movie with an all-star cast including Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn and Michael McKean, with a setup based on the popular board game, Clue: On Stage is currently playing at Olympia Little Theatre. It’s a laugh-a-second farce with a huge cast of some of the best actors in the South Sound, including Luke Amundson, Heather and Michael Christopher, Drew Doyle, W. Scott Pinkston, Jenifer Gillis Rifenbery and …

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  • COVID-19 Forces Delays for Harlequin Productions; Others May Follow
    Harlequin Productions appears to be the first theater in Western Washington to implement COVID cancellations in 2022 – a move that other organizations may soon follow.
  • UPDATED: Big Things Are Coming to Olympia Family Theater
    The arrival of artistic director Lily Raabe to Olympia Family Theater (OFT) means big things for the family entertainment company in spring of 2022. Two mainstage shows open days apart, followed by the long-awaited debut of a musical mystery by Oly playwright Ted Ryle.
  • The Land of Sweets Is Back at The Washington Center
    This year marks The Nutcracker’s jubilant return to The Washington Center, with Josie and Ken Johnson at the helm. Guest artist Lucas Horns will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cavalier alongside a cast of over 150.
  • REVIEW: A Christmas Carol at Harlequin Productions
    By Alec Clayton Following decades of the popular Stardust shows at Harlequin Productions, the company embarks on a new holiday tradition with a production of A Christmas Carol adapted and directed by Aaron Lamb, who is also in the cast. “The great majority of the text is directly from the page,” Lamb says. “We’re as close to the Dickens original as we can be, with a couple of major changes. My adaptation is a collage of all my favorite parts of other productions and versions of A Christmas Carol that I’m familiar with, with some of my own choices. As a professional …

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  • A Downstairs Christmas at Pemberley
    In OLT’s “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are hosting a Christmas party. That creates endless work for the servants downstairs, but the real hitch is the impending arrival of Mr. Darcy’s sworn enemy, Mr. Wickham.
  • REVIEW: Until the Flood: Brutal, Angry, Heartbreaking, Astonishing
    By Alec Clayton Content warning: This article includes language directly quoted from the performance that some readers may find disturbing. Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith’s Until the Flood — now playing at Harlequin Productions, in repertory with Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill — is brutal, angry, heartbreaking and astonishing.  Following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Orlandersmith explored the social uprising that followed through extensive interviews with Missouri residents. This performance is wholly made of dramatizations of many of those interviews. The performance opens with photographic projections, by John …

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  • REVIEW: Eurydice at South Puget Sound Community College
    By Alec Clayton Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl is a modern retelling of the Orpheus myth as seen through the eyes of Orpheus’s wife, Eurydice (pronounced yuh-RID-ih-see). As performed by the SPSCC Theatre Collective, it is mystical, poetic and surrealistic. In the program, director Lauren Love wrote, “Ruhl’s imagination is thoroughly theatrical. She refracts her poetry through the language of the characters … through their silences and through the space they occupy that gains its dimension in light, costume, sound and state.” As such, this play depends on lights, set, costume and sound much more so than naturalistic plays do. Kudos …

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  • Olympia Family Theater Welcomes New Artistic Director Lily Raabe
    By Molly Gilmore Lily Raabe, Olympia Family Theater’s new artistic director, loves fantasy, adventure — and community. The company plans to resume producing shows in the spring; meanwhile, Raabe is focused on connecting with and learning about the people who surround and support the theater. She’ll host a series of online and in-person meetings beginning Nov. 11. The meetings — open to all who are interested in shaping the theater’s future — are part of the process of creating a three-year plan for the 15-year-old theater. The company was co-founded by Jen Ryle, who just stepped down as artistic director, and …

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  • REVIEW: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    By Alec Clayton Billie Holiday was the heart and soul of jazz from the 1930s through the 1950s. She put that period’s violent racism front and center in some of her songs — undeniably and often uncomfortably, as demonstrated by her signature song’s effect on audiences. “Strange Fruit” is Abel Meeropol’s heartbreaking and powerful ballad about lynching: “Southern trees bear a strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root / Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze / Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees … “ Legendary jazz writer Nat Hentoff called her style and …

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  • A Wild Hunt for Christmas
    By Christian Carvajal As far back as the heyday of Norse mythology, northern Europeans have cherished and embellished the legend of the Wild Hunt. In some versions, Odin or one of his chief minions led a party of the dead on a rampage through nighttime woods. The legend inspired creations from a Liszt étude to a Mike Mignola Hellboy comic. A heard-but-unseen “great hunt” charges through The Hobbit‘s Mirkwood, and covers of Stan Jones’ “Ghost Riders in the Sky” are perennial staples on country radio. There are whispers to this day that if one listens closely on a dark winter’s …

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  • REVIEW: Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical
    By Alec Clayton Harlequin Productions’ Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical is much more than a musical revue. Yes, Meg McLynn as Clooney performs all the legendary singer’s greatest hits — “Hey There,” “Tenderly,” “Sisters,” “Come On-a My House” and more, often in unexpected ways — and costar Bruce Haasl as “The Doctor” sings as exquisitely as Harlequin patrons have come to expect. But through the songs and through their excellent acting, they tell Clooney’s life story — a story few people know — that is in moments tragic, in other moments funny and ultimately uplifting. Clooney grew up in a troubled family …

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  • Three Plays in Repertory at Olympia’s Harlequin Productions
    By Alec Clayton Opening a new theatrical season after almost two years of being closed, Harlequin Productions is trying something it’s never before attempted: three plays in repertory, with overlapping schedules and each play to open one week apart and run concurrently for five weeks each.  Marketing and communications director — and frequent Harlequin actor — Helen Harvester said, “Aaron Lamb, who has previous experience with rotating repertories as an actor, wanted to announce Harlequin’s return in a big way. Rather than staging one enormous production, which would have incurred great risk due to ongoing health regulations, he chose this …

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  • The Theater That Refused to Die
    By Alec Clayton From Reefer Madness and Cannibal the Musical to lots and lots of Shakespeare, and performing in such diverse spaces as Olympia Little Theatre, the basement of the Elks Hall and the Midnight Sun in downtown Olympia, Theater Artists Olympia had its genesis in the early 2000s; and every time it looks like it’s done for, it rises from the ashes. Its latest reincarnation is a production of The Head That Wouldn’t Die, a hilarious adaptation of the B movie The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, directed for the third time by Pug Bujeaud and starring most of the …

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  • Artistic Director Jen Ryle Says Goodbye to Olympia Family Theater
    By Molly Gilmore There’s change coming to Olympia Family Theater: Though she’s as passionate as ever about children’s theater, co-founder Jen Ryle is stepping down from her role as artistic director to create space for new leadership. She’s involved with the search for her successor and will stay on to work with the new hire as the theater prepares to reopen later this year. For the past 15 years, Ryle has been leading the theater she co-founded with Samantha Chandler, shepherding it through 14 seasons, 64 mainstage shows, the launch of an education program and the 2014 move into the …

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  • The Washington Center Announces 2021-2022 In-Person Season
    By Molly Gilmore There’s big news for Olympia’s arts lovers: Though COVID-19 continues to require theaters to be prepared for all possibilities, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts has unveiled a 2021-2022 season. The season, kicking off Sept 16, offers music, comedy, theater and even performing dogs. “I’m just so excited to have people back in the theater,” said center executive director Jill Barnes. “It’s begging to be used. We installed all this amazing audio and lighting equipment, and I can’t wait for our community to experience that and to feel the joy of live events.” The audience will …

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  • Local Author Teams up With Puppeteer Troupe for One-Night Outdoor Performance
    By Alec Clayton Update August 23, 2021: “Moss Covered Claws Live!” has been rescheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Sept 12. More details are below. A one-of-a-kind literary and performance event is happening one night only in Lions Park in the Eastside Olympia nieghborhood. Blue Cactus Press is set to present Olympia author Jonah Barrett and the String and Shadow Puppet Theater in “Moss Covered Claws Live!” — a reading and performance based on a fantasy story from Barrett’s book of short stories of the same name. Barrett will narrate and serve as master of ceremonies, while local actors …

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  • String and Shadow’s Fantastic Fauna Comes to Life at Lions Park
    By Molly Gilmore Near the big cherry tree in Lions Park, there are new trees and bushes — cardboard ones that look like illustrations from a storybook. Nestled against the park shelter, the foliage sets the scene for String and Shadow puppet theater’s Fauna Fantastique, a playful pageant running weekends through Aug. 1. Like the show’s puppets, the sets are fantastical, folding and transforming for scene changes. Fauna is structured as an animal documentary program — think, depending on one’s age, of Wild Kingdom or Animal Planet — about more and less mythical animals, from the Japanese, nightmare-eating baku to …

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  • The Washington Center for the Performing Arts Announces First Capital Campaign Since Creation
    By Molly Gilmore Open again after more than a year, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts is embarking on an effort to make audiences and artists feel even more welcome. The not-for-profit theater is raising money to refresh and renew its public spaces. The project, set to be completed next summer, will include new seats, new carpet, new colors and a new layout for the concessions area. The center will also be installing an electronic marquee. The renovation will be a visible sign of the return of live performance, said Center executive director Jill Barnes. “The full recovery of …

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  • Thurston County Community Arts Organization Acquires Land to Build New Theater
    By Jonah Barrett Following the closure of Yelm’s Triad Theater in 2019, Thurston County’s community theaters were relegated to only Olympia. That will change soon with the opening of a new community theater just 30 minutes south of Washington’s capital. Tenino Young at Heart Theatre (TYT), the town’s oldest theater company, has recently acquired a plot of land on Sussex Avenue. Plans are now in place to construct an entirely new community theater, with four to five TYT productions expected to place per year. “The reaction to our news has been quite significant. I have received calls, emails and messages of how …

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  • Harlequin Productions Announces 2021-22 In-Person Season
    By Molly Gilmore Audiences hungry for live theater will be treated to a bountiful buffet when Harlequin Productions reopens Oct. 22. Since Covid-19 brought “The Highest Tide” to an early end in March 2020, the company’s State Theater has “essentially been frozen in time,” artistic director Aaron Lamb said Saturday at the company’s virtual season announcement. That will all change quickly come fall, when the company plans to premiere three plays in three weeks. The shows — two focused on the lives and music of legendary divas Rosemary Clooney and Billie Holiday and the third, “Until the Flood,” an in-depth …

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  • ‘Hotel Olympian’ Playwright Among Those Celebrated with Heritage Awards
    By Alec Clayton The hour-long radio play “The Hotel Olympian 100th Anniversary Grand Gala Extravaganza,” by local playwright Bryan Willis, received a Heritage Award from the City of Olympia’s Heritage Commission in a celebration on May 20. Also celebrated with Heritage Awards were filmmaker Shane Anderson, Thurston County Historic Commission and Placemaker Alicia Elliott. Willis is a celebrated local playwright, founder and playwright-in-residence of Northwest Playwrights Alliance at Seattle Repertory Theatre; Senior Editor, “NorthNorthwest,” NPA & University of Idaho; and Artistic Director, “Play Buffet” summer theater program, Academy of International Education. “The Hotel Olympian 100th Anniversary Grand Gala Extravaganza” recreates the …

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  • Native American Performers, Musicians, Storytellers Celebrated in Upcoming Ensemble
    By Molly Gilmore “Welcome to Indian Country,” which premieres Thursday, May 27, at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, is a song- and story-packed celebration of Native American life — and of the accomplishments of Native American performers. The show will tour across the country, but its genesis is right here: It’s produced and directed by Andre Bouchard of Olympia, and the center is hosting not only the show’s debut but also a weeklong residency that will play a key role in the production’s development. “We are so excited to be a part of the incubation and creation of …

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  • Broadway Olympia Productions Previews West Olympia Black Box Space
    By Molly Gilmore Not far from the Century Olympia cinemas at Capital Mall is another theater: Broadway Olympia Productions’ new black box. The company showed off the improvements to the 2,500-square-foot space at an industry open house last week and plans to begin producing live entertainment there as soon as it’s safe to do so. The musical theater company began renting the storefront across from Old Navy in August 2018 and used it as rehearsal space, and had planned to begin producing shows there beginning in April 2020 with “21 Chump Street,” a 15-musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda for the …

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  • The Dynamic Duo That Is Lynette Charters Serembe and John Serembe
    By Alec Clayton Coming to Olympia from New York and England by way of Hollywood, John Serembe and Lynette Charters Serembe have built a life that is wrapped up in art and family and community. John is an actor and a graphic artist, greatly admired for his performances with Harlequin Productions, Theater Artists Olympia, Animal Fire Theater and Olympia Family Theater. At the drop of a cue he can become anyone and anything. Lynette is a painter whose recent Missing Woman series is garnering national acclaim. In 2015 they opened the living and dining rooms in their Olympia home as …

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  • Olympia Gears Up for Arts Month This April
    By Molly Gilmore Remember when Arts Walk, Olympia’s twice-yearly celebration of creations and community, filled the downtown shops and streets with performances, paintings and people? For the second year in a row, Arts Walk as it used to be is on hold. Even with the state poised to enter Phase 3 of the recovery plan, the two-day event is just too big to happen safely in a pandemic. So the city is trading that jam-packed weekend for Arts Month, as it did in October. The idea is to highlight arts of all kinds and reconnect locals who’ve been spending much …

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  • Goldfinch Productions to Offer Historic Anti Racist Radio Play
    By Alec Clayton This is monumental — historic — a first for Olympia. Goldfinch Productions and KGY Radio will present “Rachel” by Angelina Weld Grimké, performed as a radio play. “Rachel” is the first play written by an African American and featuring an all-Black cast. First performed in 1920 at Myrtilla Miner Normal School (a teacher’s college in Washington, DC) Grimké wrote the play in response to D.W. Griffith’s filmic celebration of the Ku Klux Klan, “Birth of a Nation.” Subsequent productions took place at the “colored branch” of the YMCA in New Castle, Penn, and Theater Ensemble of Color in Portland, Main. …

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  • Lacey’s Goldfinch Productions Announces 2021 Season
    By Molly Gilmore At a time when the pandemic has made many theater companies hesitant even to make plans, South Sound’s Goldfinch Productions is ready for takeoff on its 2021 season. The plucky nonprofit, founded in 2018 with the goal of opening a theater and studio in Lacey, will produce a half-dozen audio plays, with possibilities for video and live performance later in the year. It’s the most ambitious season the fledgling company has yet produced — and it’s more necessary than ever, said Goldfinch artistic director Kevin McManus. “We’ve got to do theater,” he told OLY ARTS. “We’ve got to …

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  • Hotel Olympian 100th Anniversary Grand Gala Extravaganza: A Radio Project
    By Alec Clayton Subtitled “A Community Comes Together,” the “Hotel Olympian 100th Anniversary Grand Gala Extravaganza” is a recreation of the gala opening celebration of the downtown Hotel Olympian in June 1920. The project is spearheaded by playwright Bryan Willis, founder of the Northwest Playwright Alliance and directed by Deane Shellman, with an all-star cast of local actors. It was recorded at Olympia Family Theatre and will premiere on 95.3 KGY Radio Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. This 1920s-style radio broadcast recreating the opening night gala and dance will feature a small orchestra, ten songs, what Willis terms a” Stardust-esque love …

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  • Harlequin Offers Two Streaming Productions of A Christmas Carol
    By Molly Gilmore When Harlequin Productions announced its 2020 season, “A Christmas Carol” was slated to be the holiday show. Since then, of course, virtually every plan — in the theatrical world and in the world at the large — has changed. But Harlequin is, despite it all, mounting a production of “A Christmas Carol.” To be sure, it is not the same version of “Carol” that artistic director Aaron Lamb had in mind in April 2019. His plan was to create his own adaptation and, it goes without saying, to produce it on stage before an audience full of …

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  • Olympia Gets Ready for the Holidays
    By Molly Gilmore Though plans for in-person film screenings have been postponed, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts is still getting into the spirit of the season. It’s what Jill Barnes, the center’s indefatigable executive director, calls “Operation Holiday Cheer.” The center had planned to reopen Thanksgiving weekend as a movie theater, showing Christmastime classics as well as Ballet Northwest’s new “Nutcracker” film. Then COVID-19 infection rates began to grow, and cinemas were closed, indoor dining at restaurants was halted and a reduced capacity was applied for retail shops — restrictions that are scheduled to end Dec. 14, as …

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  • Fall Shows Offer Light on the Horizon for Harlequin, Washington Center
    By Molly Gilmore While live theaters in Washington State remain closed, both Harlequin Productions and The Washington Center for the Performing Arts have shows on the way. Beginning Sept. 20, Harlequin will present radio-style productions of most of the shows it had to cancel during its 2020 season — plus a new thriller for the week of Halloween. And the center has added four physically distanced shows to its calendar, beginning Oct. 17 with a night of standup comedy. The center’s plans to welcome audiences back when the governor’s office approves a reopening plan for theaters about a month before …

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  • The Art of Stage Management
    By Alec Clayton A woman holding a clipboard sticks her head into a dressing room and says to the actors, furiously getting into costume and makeup, a single word: “Five.” The actors say back to her, “Thank you, Five.” Five minutes later the platform in front of stadium seats at Harlequin Productions becomes the front porch of a house in a little town in Georgia in the 1930s and actors Aaron Lamb and Helen Harvester become Atticus Finch and Mayella Ewell in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Or the stage area at Olympia Little Theatre is transformed into a wild river …

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