‘The Marvelous Wonderettes” takes us back to 1958, where four girls are entertaining at the senior prom at Springfield High. With big hair and flouncy skirts, they sing songs of the day.
The production is a revue more than a play, although the songs reflect the singers’ personalities and stories. The second act catches up with them 10 years later, when each one’s life has taken a different path. The singers are the only ones onstage, except for a few moments when an audience member is enlisted to stand in for the love interest of one of the girls.
The late ’50s are not a memorable era of popular music, but there was some good harmonizing going on in songs like “Sandman,” “Lollipop” and “Sincerely.” The Saturday afternoon audience was made up of senior citizens, and they could relate to the time and the humor, but younger audiences might not get the same vibe, or some of the humor. Remember a “cootie catcher?”
The show was written by Roger Bean and directed and choreographed by Jake Liam McGuire. The singers have strong voices and are well cast for the personalities they inhabit.
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Michelle Hansen plays Cindy Lou, sure that she’s the prettiest girl at Springfield High and certain that she will be named prom queen. She’s funny as she spars with her friend Betty Jean for the spotlight.
Betty Jean is played by Elizabeth Premer, who gives her a bit of an inferiority complex, which Cindy Lou is quick to exploit. Caitlin Fuller is cute as Suzy Simpson, the girl with the most comical charm. Missy Miller, played by Danielle Mendoza, who holds it all together, seems to be the most grounded member of the group,
They are great at harmonizing in the style of the Shirelles, the Chordettes and the Marvelettes, and each onesteps out to take her turn with solos.
In the second act, at a reunion on the same stage, the hairdos and the dress es are different, and the innocence of the first act gives way to each one’s tale of love won and lost, told with songs that reflect their situations and feelings.
Suzy is hugely pregnant, and funny as she dances and struts. The other girls’ stories go from happy to tragic with songs like “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To,” “You Don’t Own Her,” “Leader of the Pack,” and “Son of a Preacher Man.”
This show is a colorful period piece, showcasing some fine voices. It will bring back memories for some and introduce others to a much different era of both music and life.