‘Magical Mystery Midsummer Musical’ Marvels the Masses

5 Aug 2020 admin

first_imgPhoto courtesy: Harlequin Productions“Waiting for Godot”“Midsummer Night’s Dream”“Taming of the Shrew”“Stardust for Emily-Jean”“Elephant Man”“Dracula”“The Tempest”“Antony and Cleopatra”“Hamlet”“As You Like It”Call the Box Office at 360-786-0151 or stop by at 202 4th Ave. E in downtown Olympia to get your tickets for the Magical Mystery Midsummer Musical, running now through July 21, 2018. Visit www.harlequinproductions.org for more information. Facebook60Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Rebekah Finn for Harlequin ProductionsThis summer, Harlequin Productions is celebrating the accomplishments of rock musician and musical director extraordinaire, Bruce Whitney, with an original musical production, Magical Mystery Midsummer Musical. Bruce has been writing original scores and songs for live theater ever since his sister-in-law, Linda Whitney, asked him to compose some music for a modern-dress production of Macbeth in 1988. His involvement at Harlequin expanded to include directing and performing onstage as well, most notably as his recurring Stardust role of band leader Nikolai Feyodorov.Photo courtesy: Harlequin Productions“As of August, it will be exactly 30 years since Bruce started working in theater,” says Linda.The majority of his theatrical work has been creating scores for Shakespeare productions, many of which were originally intended to include musical numbers.“There are a lot of songs in those plays, but of course the music has been long-gone, so you can either perform those segments as straight text or you can put them to music,” explains Linda. “So, on a number of occasions that’s what we chose to do with Bruce’s help.”Sometimes the music that Bruce wrote, as with Harlequin’s 2017 production of Cymbeline, was an underscore to the text and action, providing the thematic overlay and stylistic connection between scenes. In most of those cases, the music was pre-recorded and used as one of many components to tie together the story.In this summer’s retrospective musical, Bruce’s work is given the spotlight.“What I wanted to do is share the music that never gets heard again—stuff that was composed for a show, has its run, and then goes away in the archive. There aren’t opportunities to hear it again, and yet the songs are quite beautiful and deserve to be enjoyed,” says Linda. “It’s also a chance to hear the music live, because most of it was used before in playback and heard digitally.”What Linda and the whole cast and crew have come up with is a bit of a variety show, full of all kinds of colorful activities: singing, dancing, acrobatics, slapstick comedy, puppets, props, tricks and illusions, all woven together with Bruce’s beautiful music.Photo courtesy: Harlequin Productions“The segments relate to the content of the material, but we’re not trying to re-stage any scenes,” explains Linda. “It relates thematically, but we’re not re-enacting.”Instead, the cast is made up of a core of vocalists that includes Christie Oldright, Bruce Haasl, Amy Shephard, and Mari Nelson for whom some of the songs were originally written. Additionally, a group of clownish dancing characters including Elex Hill, Maggie and Christian Doyle, and two mesmerizing aerialists, Marlo Winter and Eric Sanford.You won’t see any red noses or curly wigs here, as this is a European or Vaudeville-style clown troupe with corsets, vests, tutus, hats, and intricate (but not frightening) makeup. The style pays homage to the European circuses of the Middle Ages that were pulled together with whatever pieces of clothing the performers could get their hands on.“I feel like the clown princess of Marie Antionette’s court,” says cast member Amy Shephard of her costume.The show overall has a sense of decadence and sumptuousness. The use of fabric props of various forms combined with lighting effects that recall the elements of nature, really enhance the musical numbers to ignite the audience’s imagination. The eight-person musical ensemble onstage provides the live soundtrack, including fabulous solo performances, which are able to transport the audience to wonderfully imaginary places. Add in aerial acrobats and animals dancing across the stage (some real, some fabricated), and you are truly transported to other worlds.If you’re a long-time Harlequin supporter, you’ll hear some familiar tunes from these past shows:last_img

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