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Hey man, Olympia Musical Theatre brings the ’60s to life for Picnic Theater season

Courtesy of Olympia Musical Theatre

If you’re strolling the boardwalk this weekend, you might spot a group of tie-dye clad people singing about peace, love and hair.

It’s not a gathering of latter-day hippies but rather Olympia Musical Theatre’s “Three Days of Peace and Music,” a tribute to Woodstock, “Hair” and the era of flower children.

The Port Plaza concert — featuring the Olympia Musical Theatre Singers and Kids in Concert — kicks off the theater company’s first full summer of Picnic Theater, which also includes two full musicals.

“I hope it will become a summer tradition,” said Troy Arnold Fisher, the theater company’s artistic and music director and the director of Kids in Concert.

The company’s first Picnic Theater musical, last summer’s “Triumph of Love,” had audiences excited.

“We had a big turnout to all of the performances,” Fisher told The Olympian. “Audiences voiced that they loved the idea of Picnic Theater. … They loved being down by the water where the scenery was more or less organic.”

“One night there was hardly any place to sit,” said Bobbe Murray, one of the OMT singers and a member of the theater’s board. “We had so many people say, ‘You have to do this again.’ ”

Fisher is a well-known figure in Olympia’s musical theater scene, having served as music director for the now-defunct Capital Playhouse, where he started Kids in Concert (then spelled Kids in Koncert).

“Three Days” will include music by Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seeger and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, along with many others.

“The songs of Woodstock that cried out for revolution, peace, freedom, change and love amid the controversy and horrors of the Vietnam War, and the national discord over civil liberties and racial and gender inequality, are not just memorable,” Fisher said. “They seem still relevant 50 years later.

“This concert unites the young singers of Kids in Concert, many of whom are the age of the first audience at Woodstock, and the adults in the OMT Singers, most of whom lived through the ’60s,” he added. “So the concert has a sense of nostalgia, as well as a sense of passing the torch.”

This weekend’s concert will have live accompaniment, as will the musicals “Songs for a New World” (July 25-28) and “A Grand Night for Singing” (Aug 1-4).

Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World,” which was Olympia Musical Theatre’s first full-scale production in 2014, is a song cycle about turning points.

“It’s about one moment,” Brown has said. “It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back.”

“A Grand Night for Singing” is a Tony-nominated revue of the music of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, putting a few twists on some of the duo’s most popular tunes.

“To quote a Hammerstein lyric, I think listening to these wonderful songs with the summer breeze blowing across the water as the sun sets will truly be an ‘Enchanted Evening,’ ” Fisher said.

‘Three Days of Peace & Music’

  • What: Olympia Musical Theatre kicks off its Picnic Theater season with a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and 51st anniversary of “Hair’s” Broadway premiere.
  • When: 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Where: Port Plaza, 701 Columbia St. NW, Olympia
  • Tickets: Free
  • More information: olympiamusicaltheatre.org

The rest of the season

“Songs for a New World,” Jason Robert Brown’s 1995 song cycle about pivotal moments in people’s lives: 7 p.m. July 25-28

“A Grand Night for Singing,” the 1993 revue of the music of Broadway legends Rodgers & Hammerstein: 7 p.m. Aug. 1-4

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