One day in the very hot summer of 2009, a writer for The Olympian was desperate to be somewhere more comfortable than her 100-plus-degree apartment.
She didn’t see the point of musical revues, but when Harlequin Productions sent an email reminding people that the State Theater has air conditioning, she decided to go just to cool off.
The play that night was “Sixties Chicks,” and it changed the writer’s mind about revues. It didn’t just have good music; it had drama, plot and characters that came through the well-known musical numbers.
She liked it so much she went back. (And, yes, the temperatures had gone down.)
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Good news for this writer and a lot of other people: The company’s musical offering this summer — looking like another long, hot one — is “Sixties Chicks Too.”
It’s not a sequel — the company already did two of those in the years following the original — but neither is it a remake.
“We’re reinventing it,” said Linda Whitney, artistic director of the company and the director of the show (both now and then).
The “Too” in the title, she said, nods to the idea that today’s changes and challenges are of a similar magnitude. “This is also an iconic decade of transformation,” she said.
The show will feature a new set that puts the singers on different levels, a different array of historic photos projected above the stage (put together by designer Tom Dakan) and a mostly-new cast. Noted local jazz singer LaVon Hardison is back, joined by Harlequin veterans Amy Shephard and Stacie Caulkins and newcomer Gretchen Boyt of Tacoma.
And about half of the production’s 33 songs will be different.
“It’s been re-mashed up,” Whitney said. “There are certain iconic songs that were in the first one that are in this — ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,’ ‘Natural Woman,’ ‘A Change Is Gonna Come,’ ‘Woodstock’ — but it also includes artists we didn’t include before, Laura Nyro and Leslie Gore.”
There also will be new songs by some of the same artists, she said. “Aretha Franklin has such a huge catalog that there’s a lot to choose from.”
The reason for the revival? There were just so many requests, the director said.
“Whenever we do a musical, a number of people — usually ladies — on the way out the door will say, ‘This was great, but I sure hope you do ‘Sixties Chicks again.’
“People have a soft spot for it.”
In a review of the original for The Olympian, critic Alec Clayton admitted he did. “I loved it,” he wrote, “and I’m sure most people who see it will, whether they lived through the ’60s or just heard about it from their parents or grandparents.”