Audiences queuing up for a show called Shout! The Mod Musical probably have a pretty good idea of what they’re in for: a boatload of songs from the ’60s, some trippy wigs and costumes and psychedelic colors, and a satisfying dose of nostalgia. No in-depth examination of the period or its songs is expected.
Taking that approach, most people who remember the 1960s, especially from the viewpoint of swinging London, will find some entertainment in this show by Phillip George and David Lowenstein, now onstage at the Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre. After all, who can argue with a roundup of tunes by the likes of Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, etc.? That’s right: Only girl singers need apply for this show.
That’s five girls in all, identified by the colors they wear—yellow, green, blue, orange and red—and the barest hint of identity. One (Trina Rizzo) is bespectacled and kinda goofy; another (Brittney Klepper) seems cut out for a life as wife and mother; yet another (Cathleen Baudrit-Noeth) is “a bit of a slut”; and then there’s the model type who’s always posing (Elora Czaia). The gang of Britons is joined by one American girl (Noelia Altamirano) with a pronounced crush on Paul McCartney.
You now know virtually everything you need to know about the characters, who burst onto the suitably “groovy” stage (lots of eye-popping colors and flower symbols) in their miniskirts and go-go boots with a high amount of energy. The merest thread of a storyline is provided by excerpts from the “Shout” magazine they all read, which keeps the time period rolling along and also offers advice for these women from a columnist named Gwendolyn Holmes (advice that always seems to steer them toward a beauty product or service). Oh, and there are some Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In moments as well, with some pretty weak gags popping up.
Still, it’s good to hear the songs again. They’re not all British—Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made for Walking is a highlight of Act II—but many do summon up that era when, for a while, all things British were cool.
Quite a few of the numbers are ensemble, but each girl gets a chance to shine solo, too. Some of the best moments: Rizzo’s To Sir With Love, Altamirano’s Son of a Preacher Man, the duet of Czaia and Klepper on You’re My World/All I See Is You, and Baudrit-Noeth’s I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love. There’s also a good bit as the performers segue from a brief pot-smoking scene (parents, beware!) to a Bond-flavored Coldfinger (not Goldfinger, although it sure sounds like it).
The end of the show tries to give us some sense of the changes in the world and these women from where we started, but it’s probably all just best summed up in the old Mary Hopkin tune Those Were the Days. Most of us can relate to that.
Shout! The Mod Musical continues through April 10; for tickets call 748-5875 or go to manateeplayers.com.