Harlequin Production's ‘Blizzard’ sounds like rock and roll

Harlequin Production’s holiday musical revue aims to take audience back to the golden ’50s

Contributing writerNovember 29, 2013 

“The Stardust Christmas Blizzard” is set in 1957 and wil include classics such as “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Blue Christmas.”

COURTESY PHOTO

Harlequin Productions’ Linda Whitney said she was done with the theater’s long-running Stardust holiday musical revues two years ago.

Yet this year, Harlequin’s holiday production returns with “The Stardust Christmas Blizzard.”

“I think the only way to phrase it is ‘back by popular demand,’ ” said Whitney, who runs Harlequin Productions with her husband, Scot Whitney.

For two decades, she’s been helming a holiday show set in a fictional Manhattan nightclub.

“We just had so many requests,” she said. “ ‘Really? Are you not going to bring “Stardust” back?’ ”

So after taking a break with last year’s contemporary musical revue “The Christmas Survival Guide,” Linda Whitney is off on another holiday nostalgia trip — with a twist. The time machine, so to speak, is set not for the World War II era, but for 1957.

“I really wanted to get out of the ’40s,” she said. “We can get into that early rock and roll before it got too big and too electric guitar.”

That means including such holiday classics as “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Blue Christmas” along with rocking numbers and older standards.

“The entire song list is songs from the top 100 of 1955, 1956 and 1957,” she said. “We’ve covered a lot of the big acts of the time: The Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly.”

“I’m very excited for 1957 because I remember that intimately,” said Gloria Strait, a former Harlequin board member who has seen every “Stardust” show. “They had the ’30s and ’40s music for so many years, which I loved, but you don’t get people who are younger to identify with it. I think a lot of people can identify with the rock and roll music of the 1950s.”

The music of the ’50s is a lot bouncier than that of the ballad-dominated ’40s, Whitney said, and that’s paved the way for plenty of fun dance.

“There’s more dance than I even expected,” the director said. “Amy Shephard, who is in the show, was our choreographer for this, and she really had a lot of fun putting dances together.”

It also means a different kind of nostalgia trip.

“The ’50s really were kind of a golden decade,” she said. “The economy was good. Unemployment was way down. A lot of people were working, and the middle class was moving up.

“It was a happy time.”

And after all, “Stardust” is all about happy.

“It’s like the old musicals of the 1950s,” Strait said. “There’s a little bit of plot, and there’s a lot of music, and it’s joyful and fun and happy.”

“The original concept, going back 21 years or so, was that it’s a great big Christmas greeting to the community,” Whitney said. “It’s a feel-good show. We know we’re going to get a happy ending.”

The Stardust Christmas Blizzard

What: Harlequin Productions revives its holiday tradition of Stardust musicals with “The Stardust Christmas Blizzard,” set in 1957 and featuring holiday tunes, standards and some rock and roll.

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, plus Dec. 4-7, 12-14, 19-21 and 26-28; 2 p.m. Sunday, plus Dec. 8, 15, 22 and 24; and 7 p.m. Dec. 31

Where: State Theater, 202 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia

Tickets: $38 for adults, $35 for military and seniors, $25 for students and those younger than 25. Discounted rush tickets are available a half-hour prior to curtain. For the Dec. 4 performance, pay what you can.

More information: 360-786-0151 or harlequin productions.org

Season tickets: $157-$185 for the full seven-show package, $118-$199 for flex passes that allow you to choose available seats for any performance of four, six or all seven productions.

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