Having completed its long run of Stardust revues, Harlequin shifts its focus to present-day holiday anxieties in A Christmas Survival Guide, opening Nov. 22. Such favorite noels as "O Holy Night" are sprinkled like holly berries into a musical comedy by James Hindman and Ray Roderick. "The 12 Days of Christmas" have morphed into "The 12 Steps of Christmas," a song which enumerates the gifts of an AA sponsor. Guide is set in a club called "The House of Jazz," which should provide ample opportunity for Bruce Whitney and company to shine. I have a good feeling about this one.
I've read Or, - that comma appears in the name of the play- by Liz Duffy Adams, and I admire its clever use of verse. It echoes popular dramatic form during the reign of Charles II, when Aphra Behn labored as one of the first known working female playwrights. (Eliza Haywood and the ironically named Delarivier Manley often get lost in the shuffle.) In addition to her efforts as a playwright, poet, and novelist, Behn may or may not have been a bisexual spy codenamed "Astrea." Busy, busy! This show opens Jan. 24.
The Philadelphia Story, first written in 1939, is still widely regarded one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. You may have seen the justly beloved Katharine Hepburn movie, but did you know Hepburn co-produced the Broadway version? Hey, Harlequin, good luck finding a Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart nowadays! Even so, the dialogue in this baby shines. Look for it March 14, a month after Valentine's Day.
Harlequin's mutual admiration society with playwright Israel Horovitz continues May 9, when Gloucester Blue pulls from Horovitz's arsenal of working-class lingo, seething resentments, and ill-advised liaisons. The show's Broadway debut was scored by Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys - aka Adam Horovitz, Israel's son. This production is something of a coup for Olympia, as the play debuted only last November.
June 20 brings Summer Session, a jukebox revue of '70s rock, including songs suggested by friends of Harlequin on Facebook. This will be the company's second program from the Me Decade, following their current production. Of course, ten such collections would barely scratch the surface of rock's most memorable era. Expect zero dialogue, questionable fashion choices and vigorous dancing in the aisles. And that's just the audience!
As for fall 2013, I quote Harlequin's season brochure: "We had the perfect show for this slot! But the rights to all theatrical productions have suddenly and mysteriously been yanked. (I blame Astrea!) We're now searching diligently for a suitable replacement. We'll keep you posted." No such difficulties will arise for Henry V, the Bard's thrilling account of the Battle of Agincourt two centuries before the Elizabethan era. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!" Hell, yeah! "Or close the wall up with our English dead!" Wait ... say what now? Henry V opens Oct. 3.
Now, that's a season!