The Marvelous Wonderettes

The Marvelous Wonderettes

The Marvelous Wonderettes
By George Bean
Direction and Choreography by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

High School is the most important thing in the world until almost anything else happens in life. Its prom night 1958 in Generic High, Small Town USA. The entertainment is local; four great singers in matching dresses take the stage to sing the hits of the day and ride the hormone roller coaster. One moment they’re hugging and swearing “BFF,” the next they are only a few props away from West Side Story. Needy Betty Jean (Kate Zaloumes) has a line on a guy but vindictive Cindy Lou (Caitlin Doak) chases him, just because she can. And that’s what counts as a conflict here. It’s simple but timeless and we’ve all been on one side of it or another. Buffering this acid / base reaction we find ditzy but sweet Suzy (Lindsay Nantz) and the somewhat geeky Missy (Sandia Ahlers), who try to keep the show on the road to graduation. Act Two arrives ten year later; here the action is less silly and more serious: pregnancy, abandonment, May/December marriage and go-go boots make this act not only more adult but gives us a stronger story.

But it’s not all growing up and growing cynical, there’s lots of great music here. Ms. Doak croons “Allegheny Moon” while Ms. Zaloumes fishes a foam moon over here head; later she sings “Lipstick on Your Collar” while her rival is off stage getting lipstick on her own collar. Ms. Nantz wins the crown as we go out of the first act with “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me” while Ms. Ahler’s “Secret Love” gives here something to croon about in the first act. Act Two gives each singer several fine solo moments; “You Don’t Own Me,” “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Maybe I Know” standout here. The set is sexually charged as well; the first act has suggestive hearts on the back wall and strategically attached to the mike stands and if you’re a guy in the front row you risk a trip up on stage. It’s not fair to trivialize the teen angst the girls sing about, but in each case bigger problems are looming in life. Enjoy these special hours with these girls while you can; life back then now looks simpler when just getting a prom date was the CNN crisis of the day.

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