Make us your home page

Review: Show Palace's 'Marvelous Wonderettes' hits the right notes

Almost two years before the phenomenally successful four-man musical Forever Plaid hit the boards, there was The Taffetas, the tale of a girl group hoping for fame and fortune. Both shows have four characters, sketchy plots, lots of songs from the 1950s and '60s and have been worldwide hits.

That success spawned a spate of similar shows, some wildly successful — Menopause, the Musical, for example — and not a few bombs — Hats! The Musical, which was nothing more than an annoying 90-minute commercial for the Red Hat Society.

In between are shows like Route 66, with four fellows singing lots of road songs, and The Marvelous Wonderettes, a four-female paean to music from the '50s and '60s. The latter is playing through Nov. 13 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.

Like others, it's four women singing with brief, contrived conflicts and a happy ending. Whether the show works depends on the performers and the director and choreographer who guide the movements.

For the most part, the Show Palace version does quite nicely in all these areas, with four good singers, polished direction by Robert Ennis Turoff (40 years at Golden Apple Dinner Theatre in Sarasota) and limited, but suitable dance moves by Jill Godfrey, a frequent director, dancer and actor at the Show Palace.

Act 1 takes place at the 1958 senior prom at Springfield High School, with the girls decked out in soft-hued tulle and net formals with matching shoes, and singing songs that most of the opening night audience could happily lip sync with them: Sincerely, Lollipop, Dream Lover, Stupid Cupid, all accompanied by girlish squeals, giggles, exaggerated hand moves — some of it to the point of annoyance, but appropriate for the characters' ages.

The second act is 10 years later, with white go-go boots, psychedelic colors and rather toned-down, mature behavior to go along with Heat Wave, It's in His Kiss and the anthem of the burgeoning women's liberation movement, You Don't Own Me.

It's during the second act that the singers get a chance to shine, with each getting solo song sets to explain what's been happening in their lives in the past decade.

Most impressive is Colleen Campbell (green dress, red hair) as Betty Jean, who can belt with the best and add gospel-style emotion that really soars with You've Really Got a Hold on Me, That's When the Tears Start and It's My Party. The gorgeous Heather Baird, as the sultry man-stealer Cindy Lou, vamps it up in Son of a Preacher Man and Leader of the Pack, strutting the stage with bravado that eventually turns to vulnerability and elicits sympathy and forgiveness.

Show Palace newcomers Kristin Wells and Caitie L. Moss are also pleasing. Wells plays a love-struck Missy Miller, who longs for choral director Mr. Lee, and Moss is tiny Suzy Simpson, who does a squeaky Stupid Cupid in act one, and wails a heartfelt Respect in the end.

All in all, The Marvelous Wonderettes is a fast-paced show and pleasant way to spend a song-filled two hours as fall sets in.

>>if you go

The Marvelous Wonderettes, a musical, matinees and evenings through Nov. 13 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson. Dinner and show $49.50, plus tax and tip. Children's and group rates available. Call (727) 863-7949 or online at

Review: Show Palace's 'Marvelous Wonderettes' hits the right notes 10/16/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New podcast: Don't forget your goat leggings, Dragnet fans!


    The Stuck in the '80s podcast returned on Sunday with an episode on "Underrated Movies from 1987" - this time June of that year. This week, we celebrate the pure goodness of Dragnet and Roxanne

  2. Hernando Events for June 30-July 6


    30 Friday

    Free Zika training: Presented by the Hernando Computer Club, the training is for those who wish to assist in the effort to find a cure for the Zika virus. Club members are volunteers for World Community Grid and are donating their devices' spare computing power to help scientists find a …

  3. Boy Scouts to head up Temple Terrace's 4th of July parade


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Volunteering is a major priority in scouting and prepping teens to become leaders is the primary purpose of the Boy Scouts' Eagle Scout program.

  4. Lutz lends old-fashioned feel to 4th of July events


    LUTZ — Attendees of the Lutz 4th of July celebration will take a step back in time with a parade, games, races, music and the election of the Guv'na of Lutz.

  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 28


    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T-Rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    This artwork called "Swimmer" by artist Nathan Sawaya is part of The Art of the Brick exhibition coming to Tampa June 23- Sept. 4. It will be open for free.