Harlequin Productions 2013 season already in progress with the musical comedy A Christmas Survival Guide offers the theaters signature blend of shows.
Theres something old (Shakespeare) and something new (Or,). This year, theres even something Blue (Israel Horowitzs Gloucester Blue).
And while borrowed is missing, the reference to the famed rhyme is by design: The season also includes two shows about weddings.
There definitely is that wedding theme and in this age where our view of marriage is becoming much more broad and expansive, said Linda Whitney, the companys co-artistic director. The Philadelphia Story looks at the hubbub around a young womans second wedding. In Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, we never even meet the bride. It revolves around the five bridesmaids.
Speaking of the changing view of marriage, Harlequin managing artistic director Scot Whitney even sees a connection between the recent passage of Referendum 74, which legalized same-sex marriage, and the seasons second play, Or,, a neo-Restoration comedy about the first professional female playwright.
The play about Aphra Behn, the first woman to become a professional playwright is set in the 17th century, but its amazingly relevant, said Scot Whitney, wholl direct.
These times right now are so similar to that period, he said. It resonates on all kinds of levels with whats going on in our culture right now in a very funny way, especially here in Washington with the gay marriage law and the marijuana law that just passed. Its like Is this about these laws?
Obviously, its not, because it was written two or three years ago, but its great timing.
Heres a quick look at the remainder of the season:
The Philadelphia Story, by Phillip Barry: The romantic comedy, best known through the Katharine Hepburn film, is rarely produced these days because of its large cast.
Gloucester Blue, by Horovitz: Critically acclaimed Horovitz, who has family in Olympia, has become a staple at Harlequin, working closely with Scot Whitney and cast on one play per season.
The first production of this play is going to be done next month; ours will be the second production, Whitney said. When he sent me the script, he said, Its kind of like Sins of the Mother, only darker and funnier, and I laughed out loud.
I thought, Thats going to be tough to do, but sure enough, he did it.
Jesus Christ Superstar, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice: The rock-opera classic is a change from Harlequins recent collection of original musical revues. Linda Whitney said she has long wanted to direct it.
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, by Alan Ball: A comedy about five bridesmaids might sound fluffy or saccharine. If you dont recognize Balls name, he wrote the film American Beauty and also HBO TV series Six Feet Under and True Blood.
Henry V, by William Shakespeare: The bard is a longtime staple at Harlequin, thanks to Scot Whitneys passion for the worlds most famous playwright. He directed Henry in 1995 and decided it was time to revisit . Again, eight actors handle the dramas 30-plus roles.
The concept is that its a raunchy little touring acting group on a pageant wagon, Whitney said. His approach was inspired by a speech by the Chorus, a single character who introduces the action and provides updates throughout the play.
He starts out by saying: We apologize. We cant possibly put on stage the size and glory of this story. Use your imagination to fill out what were doing. This is thousands and thousands of people, not this paltry little group.