Harlequin to reopen with ingenious musical comedy 

Harlequin Productions presents Murder for Two, with book by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, music by Joe Kinosian, and lyrics by Kellen Blair, March 11 – April 2, 2022, at the State Theater in downtown Olympia, WA. Corey McDaniel will direct.

They put the laughter in manslaughter! In this hilarious 90-minute musical comedy, 2 performers play 13 roles—not to mention the piano—in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.

A small-town police officer dreams of making it to detective – and one fateful night, the opportunity arrives in the form of a dead Great American Novelist. One actor investigates, the other plays every suspect, and both play the piano. It’s the perfect blend of music, mayhem, and murder!

Seattle-based Jon Lutyens and formerly Seattle, now London-based Katherine Strohmaier star in this fast-paced production filled with what Lutyens calls “piano acrobatics.” Both have the unique qualifications of being both musical theater actors and excellent pianists. The two have been friends for several years and were even housemates for a period. In a promotional interview hosted by Porcupine Media, both were asked how this close relationship will bolster the show. Strohmaier said, “No matter what happens, and things are going to happen – things that are planned and many things I’m sure that are not planned – I trust that we’ll be there to pick things up for each other.” Added Lutyens, “I mean, not to compare us to these people, but if you look at any of the acting partners like Bogie and Bacall or Hepburn and Tracy, or even Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, those people that work together all the time…I think that if you don’t get along then it’s so much harder. Especially with comedy, because in comedy you have to open up the lid on what you’re doing and tinker with it together…And I’m not comparing us to any of those really great comedic teams!”

While this is Lutyens’ first Harlequin production, Strohmaier may be familiar to Harlequin audiences as the star of another recent two-person musical, The Last Five Years (2016). In that production, she and Artistic Director Aaron Lamb also played the piano throughout. While Lamb was preparing the 2021-2022 season, Strohmaier texted Lamb that she and Lutyens had joked about pitching Murder for Two. (Lutyens had understudied the 2017 ACT production.) Lamb recalls, “I texted her back, ‘That will work. When are you available?’ She answered, ‘Oh God.'” He continues, “It is unique to find people who have the ability to do [a show like] this. I happen to know those people. And now those people are learning not to joke with me.”

In his Director’s Notes regarding the production, Corey McDaniel writes, “Being in the rehearsal room with Katherine and Jon has been a true and unique gift. Witnessing these two very skilled actors and musicians dissect and execute the rapid-fire changes of thought, characters, physicality, and a multitude of key changes was thrilling.” He adds, “Generally speaking, what I love most about theatre is our opportunity to gather as a community and reflect on what it means to be within the human experience.” Or as Lutyens puts it, “It’s going to be 90 minutes of high-energy, non-stop distraction from the world that we’re in!”

Olympia Harbor Days Changes Course

The South Sound Maritime Heritage Association Board of Directors announces a late schedule change for Olympia Harbor Days Lite, a scaled-down version of its popular 48 year-old tugboat festival.  The event will now be offered as a 1-day only event on Saturday, September 4, from 10 am to 5 pm at the Port of Olympia’s Port Plaza Park, with companion online safe at home activities on their website running from 8/28 through 9/6, according to SSMHA President Don Chalmers. Note that Sunday, September 5 has been cancelled and is replaced by Olympia Harbor Days participation in the LoveOly Summer Fest finale on Saturday, August 28 with a booth, displays and mini tugs on.  All events are free, donations accepted, and organizers request all attendees to be masked and adhere to social distancing for the safety of the community.

The September 4 event will feature a few information booths, mini tug displays, a hands on LEGO Harbor Build Activity for the kids including the professional building and display of a 5’ by 4’ LEGO tugboat, a free custom LEGO Tugboat giveaway drawing, some live music and plenty of photo ops.  The award winning Hands on Children’s Museum will also host a booth offering a make, race and take tugboat activity.  And be sure to catch the display and demonstrations in a 30’ x 24’ pool of remote controlled tugboats.  This year’s event will not include any tugboat touring, tugboat races, vendor or food booths.

Members of SS Maritime Heritage Association will be on hand to share the restoration history of Tugboat Parthia, a new attraction and shelter coming next year adjacent to the Farmers Market.  This display will be part of the National Parks Service state designation of Maritime Washington – National Heritage Area opening in 2023.

The Washington’s Lottery Tower Stage at the Port Plaza will feature local musicians on September 4 including Choro Tomorrow, Cool Breeze, Cosmos Dream, the Terry Ness Band and the Samba Olywa troupe dressed as pirates.  The music schedule is posted at www.HarborDays.com.

All events will offer maps for the year-round Maritime Heritage Self-Guided Tour along Olympia’s boardwalk, including the Olympia Arts + Heritage Alliance “It’s the Water” outdoor exhibit on the windows of the old city hall and fire station.  A one-time only narrated tour by local historian and author Chuck Fowler and City of Olympia Arts and Events Program Manager Stephanie Johnson is also offered on September 4th starting at 10 AM at the Port Plaza.  Again masking and social distancing required.

The Olympia Harbor Days Lite online event features at home self-guided activities including how to build a LEGO Tugboat, historic photos, an at home sing-a-long and more at www.HarborDays.com starting August 28.  

“SS Maritime Heritage Association, despite a number of continuing challenges, is pleased to present these community health-conscious Lite events, with special thanks of support from our community sponsors” said Chalmers.  “As the founding organization, we want to keep this nearly 50-year working waterfront-focused festival alive in preparation for a full version in 2022.” The maritime heritage nonprofit is continuing to operate the event after the Olympia Kiwanis Club had presented it from 2012 – 2019.

For almost a half century, Olympia Harbor Days has been a locally-sponsored free family friendly maritime themed festival with tugboats, historic ships, booth vendors, food, music, educational classes, children’s activities and more, held each Labor Day Weekend.

An Evening of Culture and Music

Three-time Grammy-nominated Latin band Tiempo Libre has been providing audiences with exhilarating tropical music for years. With Caribbean-inspired rhythms blended with jazz, R&B and funk, the ensemble has people from around the nation pining to see them in concert. They’re coming to The Washington Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Feb. 21. and the Federal Way Performing Arts Center on Friday, February 23.

Earning recognition and respect from those in the classic and funk music community, as well as several awards, this band knows how to bring the life to the party. John Aiello from Electric Review wrote of its music: “… songs drenched in the sensual energy of muscle, drowning in the buried sinew of the invisible … dance music at its finest hour.”

Since 2001 Tiempo Libre has been celebrating several genres and cultures of music. With a long history with various labels, it signed to Universal Music Latin Entertainment in 2015. Its newest album, Panamericano, released in the same year, solidifies the band’s talent for Latin music.

“It is Tiempo Libre’s radical fusion of various contemporary and baroque forms, and attempted expansion of Bach in Havana and My Secret Radio that offers a somewhat richer musical experience and this is quite compelling,” said Raul da Gama of Latin Jazz Network.

Appearing on TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars, The Tonight Show and Live from Lincoln Center, the band and its Afro-Caribbean music have reached the world. And now South Sounders, too, will be able to see them live in concert.

Because of the group’s wide variety of genres, fans at this show will be doing more than tapping their feet along with the beat. Tiempo Libre is ready to provide an unforgettable experience, so get your tickets now! by Jordan Marie McCaw

Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Olympia

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m.


Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center

Friday, Feb. 23, 8pm