"Fools" for the '60s

SLO Little Theatre’s new fundraiser links songs with a slight storyline

Special to The TribuneJuly 18, 2013 

From left, Shannon Peters, Jessie Quandt, Danielle Levin and Dierdre Loy star in San Luis Obispo Little Theatre’s "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"

COURTESY OF SLO LITTLE THEATRE

San Luis Obispo Little Theatre’s annual fundraiser shows often celebrate an era of music with big productions, but this year the focus on the ’60s has zeroed in on the decade’s harmonizing girls groups with “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”

The four-woman show was written by Roger Bean, who also wrote “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” another jukebox musical, which SLOLT performed last year. This one, set a bit later, is written in the same style, with a minimal storyline hooking the 19 songs together.

Four friends gather at Millie’s house following her wedding shower. When it comes to boyfriends, sharp-tongued Sally has been around and her “relationships” are short-lived. Florence (Flo) is shy and infatuated with a bad boy type. Her cousin Dee Dee, a bit of a dim bulb, is the quartet’s comic relief. And Millie’s fiancé may be less than true blue. The girls celebrate Millie’s upcoming nuptials with Swanson’s frozen dinners and shots of tequila.

This is the setup for songs about men, love and broken hearts. The singers take their solo turns with songs such as “My Boy Lollipop,” “He’s a Rebel,” and “I Will Follow Him,” backed with harmony by the others. They all have strong voices and the harmonizing is right on.

Kevin Harris directs the lively cast. Danielle Levin is Sally, the most colorful character. Wearing a blond beehive wig and some wild outfits, she dishes out remarks based on her relative experience; she teases the low-key Flo, played by Deirdre Loy, about her lack of it. Shannon Peters is a hoot as Dee Dee, getting a sugar high from Hostess pink snowballs.

In the second act, set six months later, Dee Dee is engaged and “so happy I’ve got shoes on top of my head” (head over heels). Millie, whose husband has left her by then, is played by Jessie Quandt, who gets to sing most of the sad songs. She has a strong voice for the heavies like “Hurt So Bad” and “God Give Me Strength.”

The songs all have different, appropriate words for the girls’ situations, but the sound and the beat are all in the same genre. Mark Pietri is musical director, and Kelly Fidopiastis is choreographer, with the dancing being a rhythmic complement to the singing.

The costumes by Keith Wetzel are themed to the era, with the standout being Sally’s tight mini-dress printed with peace signs, worn with royal blue patent leather boots. In the second act, all of the women seem to have had a makeover, clothes-wise.

The pastel-themed set by Dave Linfield is Millie’s living room, described in the program as “a pleasant house in a pleasant suburb.”

Like that description, this is a pleasant show with a good cast, but for my taste, too much like last year’s “Wonderettes.” If you really dig the genre, it’s for you. For me, I began to feel like I was hearing the same song over and over again. Most of the Saturday afternoon audience was made up of senior citizens, and while they got the ’60s dated humor, some of them left at intermission. The evening crowd, especially the boomers, will probably be more tuned in to the music.

IF YOU GO

"Why Do Fools Fall In Love?"

7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays
and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Aug. 4.
San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, 888 Morro St., San Luis Obispo
$35 (students $25)
786-2440 or www.slolittletheatre.org

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