Take a trip back in time with the Golden Apple's Marvelous Wonderettes.
By Kay Kipling
It’s always easy to tell ourselves the good old days were much simpler, happier times, and that certainly is the case with the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s current production of The Marvelous Wonderettes. Never mind the Cold War or the various social revolutions of the 1960s; this musical revue with lots of well-remembered songs can make you believe there was nothing more serious than the occasional spat between girlfriends taking place in those halcyon days.
The show, written and directed by Roger Bean, has been a hit elsewhere, and it’s easy to see why. Bean has tied together a slew of songs, from Dream Lover to It’s My Party to Mr. Sandman to Respect, with a slight but affectionate storyline about four girls performing on prom night and then, in Act II, at their 10-year high school reunion. Their characters are differentiated just enough to give the actresses portraying them something to hang their hats on.
Sarah Farnam, Heather Kopp, Kyle Turoff and Samantha Barrett in The Marvelous Wonderettes.
There’s Suzy (Samantha Barrett), the ditsy, gum-chewing blonde whose heart belongs to the boy running the lights for the dance; Missy (Sarah Farnam), the good-girl-nerd wearing glasses, who has a secret yen for a teacher; Cindy Lou (Heather Kopp), the flirt who’s always got a guy in her sights; and Betty Jean (Kyle Turoff), the brassy bigmouth who’s also supposed to be Cindy Lou’s best friend—until a man comes between them.
The actresses are well matched to their roles; and, in the tradition of musical revues, each gets a chance to shine on some good vocal material solo as well as together. At times it becomes obvious that their voices are really more suited to stage musicals than singing pop numbers, but they succeed despite that, occasionally letting it rip with renditions of more soulful songs like Son of a Preacher Man or (Love is Like A) Heatwave.
The show’s choreography, by Dewayne Barrett, is simple and sometimes intentionally awkward, as befits four girls who love to perform but were pressed into service at the last minute (to replace the boys’ glee club members, one of whom was caught smoking). Likewise, the costumes (by Dee Richards) bear a deliberate homemade look. And the wigs—well, you could write a whole paragraph about the wigs, but it’s best if you just see them for yourself.
Frequently bouncy and always good fun, in the hands of director Larry Raben The Marvelous Wonderettes is a welcome evening of light, nostalgic entertainment. The show continues through Feb. 21; for tickets call 366-5454 or visit thegoldenapple.com.