A musical revue is the ice cream cone of theater - sweet, refreshing and not too substantial. Even if it's sprinkled with a few nuggets of history, it goes down easy.
Last summer, Harlequin Productions’ “Sixties Chicks” sold so well that its run was extended.
“We’ve downgraded our projections over the last several years,” said Linda Whitney, the company’s co-artistic director. “Everything has contracted in this economy. But that show did as well as any show ever.”
So this year, Whitney is dishing up “Sixties Kicks,” an even bigger scoop of songs and dances from that decade.
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The show, which opened Thursday, features five singers (two male, three female) singing 37 songs from the Beach Boys to the Beatles, from the Mamas and the Papas to Jimi Hendrix.
“Rock ’n’ roll came out of that decade,” Whitney said. “It was a huge shift in the popular music. Rock ’n’ roll continues to expand and has influenced every country on Earth.”
Nikki Womac of Seattle, the show’s choreographer, said it was a good experience to really think about some of the songs that have become a part of the cultural fabric.
“I hadn’t really sat down and listened to these songs,” Womac said. “Before I start developing movement, I will sit and listen to a song a good 20 times. I have a new appreciation for songs I’ve always loved.”
The show is longer this year to accommodate a variety of songs.
“There are about 10 more songs in the show this year than there were last year,” Whitney said. “Even after finally stopping at 37 songs, we had to cut a number of things that we would have wanted in the show, so there’s probably going to be a third one in this series.”
There’s more dance, too, with major choreography accompanying about half of the songs, said Womac, a former Broadway dancer and Rockette who moved to the Northwest four years ago with her husband, Olympia native Dan Womac.
“Some songs have a concert vibe, where people are dancing in the background, or where the dance is choreographed around the mike,” she said. “And then there’s some high-energy, rockin’, bring-down-the-house kind of movement.”
Like “Chicks,” “Kicks” will put music into the context of the times and include projected images and sound bites.
“Things happened in the ’60s that continue to resonate into this century: the women’s movement, civil rights, the environmental movement,” Whitney said. “There was a huge corner that we turned as a civilization.”
The themes are broader this year, in part because last year’s show focused on female singers and the experience of being a woman in the ’60s. “We hit on a number of a things that we didn’t touch last year: the space race, the interstate freeway system, the huge automobile industry at a time when gas was 35 cents a gallon.”
While she said the show is intended to be simply “a fun escape,” Whitney has a bit of a moral in mind as well.
“I didn’t do this, but if I could, the show would end with an appeal to get out and vote,” she said. “Big change was made in the ’60s because individuals were participating in politics and society. You need an active, engaged middle class. That is the only way democracy is going to work.”
What: Following the success of last year’s “Sixties Chicks,” Harlequin Productions presents another original musical revue with hits from the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
When: 8 p.m. today and Saturday, plus June 23-26 and July 1-3, 8-10 and 15-17; matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday plus June 27 and July 4, 11 and 18.
Where: State Theater, 202 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia
Tickets: $34-$37; pay what you can for the June 23 show.
More information: 360-786-0151 or www.harlequin productions.org