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A CurtainUp Review
The Marvelous Wonderettes
All of our numbers are about the 4-letter word it's okay to say.— The Wonderettes
The off-broadway jukebox musical, The Marvelous Wonderettes may be a showcase for the pop songs of the 50s and 60s, but it seems to have discovered the secret of eternal life. When it was produced at the Westside Theater in 2008 it had already played in several U.S. cities, Since that time, the story of the Springfield High School quartet has continued making the rounds of theaters all across the nation.
Christina Bianco asMissy
This revival, directed by Tom D'Agora and Michael D'Angora, stars Christina Bianco (Missy), Kathy Brier (Suzy), Jenna Leigh Green (Cindy Lou) and Sally Schwab (Betty Jean) as the four silly sisters in song. The girls all wear those fluffy (now embarrassing) dresses with lots of crinoline. They are chubby or bespectacled. But what they lack in looks they make up in enthusiasm. These Wonderettes are all quite wonderful, with special mention going to Bianco.
The musical features many of the songs men and women of a certain age have come to cherish. They are presented in two acts: Springfield High's '58 senior prom and the school's ten-year reunion. This allows the girls to demonstrate how, despite what life slings at them, they “will survive” (oh, but that song comes much later in the liberated 70s). Missy now has an ongoing relationship with teacher Mr. Lee (now Bill). And Suzy is pregnant and unhappily married to her high school boyfriend, Richie.
In both acts, book writer Roger Bean has cleverly intertwined the songs with the girls' lives and loves. Thus favorites like “Where's Johnny” and “It's My Party” take on a special meaning. Although many in the audience may want to sing along at various times during the show, there really isn't much audience participation, except for the one male volunteer who is called onstage (a somewhat superfluous endeavor).
With minimal scenery (just a stage and a few banners) and pre-recorded music, The Marvelous Wonderettes is a low-budget show that's high in energy. Even better, these girls seem to be having one helluva time onstage. Perhaps they have indeed discovered the fountain of youth.
The Marvelous Wonderettes|
Written and Created by Roger Bean
Directed by Tom D'Angora and Michael D'Angora
Music Direction: William Wade
Cast: Christina Bianco (Missy), Kathy Brier (Suzy), Jenna Leigh Green (Cindy Lou), Sally Schwab (Betty Jean)
Choreography: Alex Ringler
Scenic Design: William Davis
Costume Design: Bobby Pearce
Sound Design: Mickey Bahr
Light Design: Lois Catanzaro
Wig Design: Jennifer Mooney Bullock
Stage Manager: Krystal Roccaro
Running Time: 90 minutes
Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre, 410 West 42 Street
From 4/28/2016; booking through 9/04/16
Sunday at 3 p.m., Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., Thursday at 8;15 p.m.
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons May 1, 2016
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