Thursday, June 21, 2018
Stage

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.

Comments
On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

SENDUP: MUSICAL OF MUSICALSFive composers, a talented cast, choreography by Cheryl Lee and music directed by Michael Raabe — that’s Freefall Theatre’s recipe for a laugh-filled, season-ending summer musical, appropriately titled The Musical of Musica...
Published: 06/20/18
Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

TAMPA — The virtues of Dancing at Lughnasa, with which Jobsite Theater closes its season, are many. This drama by the celebrated Brian Friel opened in 1990 to much acclaim. It captures a family’s joys and sadnesses, and the quickness with which one s...
Published: 06/19/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/15/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/16/18
Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

GULFPORT — Brianna Melton is as serious a ballet student as they come.By her junior year at St. Petersburg High’s International Baccalaureate program, she had already spent four summers training with ballet companies across the country and had narrow...
Published: 06/14/18
What’s on stage: The Illusionists, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa,’ G. David Howard

What’s on stage: The Illusionists, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa,’ G. David Howard

OPENING: DANCING AT LUGHNASAIrish playwright Brian Friel, who died in 2015 at 86, won’t be traveling anymore. But I’ll bet he packed a tidy suitcase. Dancing at Lughnasa, Jobsite Theater’s season closer, manages to address a lot of issues: race, reli...
Published: 06/13/18
Ruth Eckerd Hall tees up comedy, romance and Kristin Chenoweth for 2018-19 Broadway season

Ruth Eckerd Hall tees up comedy, romance and Kristin Chenoweth for 2018-19 Broadway season

Ruth Eckerd Hall rolls out a new lineup of musicals for its 2018-19 season, a mix of comedy, favorite musicals and romance."For the last 35 years, Broadway has always been a staple at Ruth Eckerd Hall," chief executive officer Zev Buffman said in a p...
Published: 06/12/18
A tense night at the Tony Awards ends in euphoria for Largo doctor Jeffrey Grove

A tense night at the Tony Awards ends in euphoria for Largo doctor Jeffrey Grove

Dr. Jeffrey Grove sat three-quarters of the way back from the stage at Radio City Music Hall, waiting for his moment. The Largo physician made the trip with family to New York for Sunday’s Tony Awards, where he hoped to see his investment in O...
Published: 06/11/18
Neal Boyd, ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner, dies at 42

Neal Boyd, ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner, dies at 42

SIKESTON, Mo. — Neal Boyd, an opera singer who won America’s Got Talent and dabbled in Missouri politics, has died. Scott County Coroner Scott Amick says Boyd died around 6 p.m. Sunday at his mother’s house in Sikeston. He was 42. Amick says Boyd had...
Published: 06/11/18
Parkland drama teens bring down the house with stirring performance at Tony Awards

Parkland drama teens bring down the house with stirring performance at Tony Awards

Members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s drama team stole the show at the 72nd Annual Tony Awards Sunday night.The performance brought the crowd— many of whom were wiping tears from their eyes— to its collective feet at the Radio City Music ...
Published: 06/11/18