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A CurtainUp Review
Shout, the Mod Musical
By Julia Furay
This particular musical is a showcase for the songs of 1960s London stars like Dusty Springfield, Lulu and Petula Clark. It's a trip down retro lane that contains hits like "To Sir With Love,""Son of a Preacher Man," "Downtown," and, of course, "Shout." Since there are so many jukebox musicals already, I would argue the onus is on the creators Phillip George and David Lowenstein (who are also director and choreographer, respectively) to justify another entry into the genre. Unfortunately, they don't.
The setup straddles awkwardly between the well-developed, character-based model of Jersey Boys and the plotless revue structure of a show like Smokey Joe's Café. The attempt to create an umbrella setting for all these unrelated songs is flimsy at best. There are five characters -- all girls -- but none of them even gets a name. Instead each is identified by a color, which she wear all night. The Blue Girl is the icy beauty, the Yellow Girl is the cheerful American, the Green Girl is the horny sexpot, and so on.
Most of the show's brief scenes feature the girls writing to an old-fashioned advice columnist, whose replies (voiced by the well respected actress Carole Shelley with appropriate stuffiness). These interchanges grow progressively more dated as the evening goes on.
The English accents are for the most part inauthentic. The few attempts to provide some dramatic weight (one of the girls drinks too much; another is in an abusive relationship) are more uncomfortable than involving.
All five performers have terrific voices (particularly Erin Crosby as the Yellow Girl), but none has a distinctive enough sound to make you forget about Dusty Springfield or Shirley Bassey. They also work hard to sell the comic bits, but they are obviously far more comfortable with the songs than the scenes and tend to mug their way through the dialogue.
All this is not to say that there are not some redeeming features. Several of the songs are very cleverly set up. "Don't Sleep in the Subway" features an amusing gag involving an electric fan. "Goldfinger" has a trashy-but-amusing beginning during which all the characters get very high off marijuana and discover the deeper meaning of the word "vagina." Feels like something out of Austin Powers.
Since George and Lowenstein manage to be intermittently successful in giving off a groovy, fun-filled vibe and because the cast has vocal talent, Shout is likely to find an audience with those who love jukebox musicals. Many, like me, however, will find that even at its best, that the show's charms wear thin and that the jukebox or radio is where all those classic songs belong.
The Internet Theatre Bookshop "Virtually Every Play in the World" --even out of print plays
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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