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Show Palace jukebox musical features a lighthearted plot and plenty of hits from the '60s

HUDSON — Suds, The Rockin' '60s Musical Soap Opera made its off-Broadway debut in 1988, and it's a mystery why it hasn't played every theater in the Tampa Bay area at least once, if not more, since then.

The show appears to have everything local audiences like (no, not beer): music from the 1950s and '60s, dancing and a light plot that seems just right for summer entertainment.

Still, search though I may, I can't find where any area theater has done the show.

That's being remedied by the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, where Suds opens on Saturday and continues matinees and evenings through Sept. 13 with a cast of three Show Palace newcomers and one veteran.

It's the tale of Cindy (Melissa Whitworth, who has performed at Titusville Playhouse and Orlando's Mad Cow Theatre), a lonely laundromat manager who longs for love, but has been dumped by her pen-pal boyfriend because of her bad penmanship (Please, Mr. Postman; The End of the World).

As if on cue, two guardian angels appear to help her: longtime angel Marge (Heather Krueger, tour of Let's Hang On) and angel first-timer Dee Dee (Ellie Pattison, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls). Dee Dee offers immediate advice — You Can't Hurry Love. Then all three lament lost loves in Don't Make Me Over, Anyone Who Had a Heart, Walk on By and Always Something There to Remind Me.

Yes, this is the quintessential jukebox musical, with a lighthearted plot linking favorite songs, 51 of them in all, including the medleys.

There are complications. The cute washing machine repairman (Kevin Kelly in multiple roles) looks like a good prospect for Cindy, until he tacks up a want ad for a babysitter on the laundromat bulletin board. Boo-hoo.

So Dee Dee comes up the idea of a birthday party with a mystery date who just may be the perfect match for Cindy — but isn't.

That sets up the second act. And it's also filled with '60s favorite songs, like Wishin' and Hopin', The Look of Love, the Beatles' We Can Work It Out and a score of others.

The show was created by Melinda Gilb, Steve Gunderson and Bryan Scott, who still travel the country directing the show, along with choreographer Javier Velasco.

The director of the Show Palace version is Steven Flaa, an award-winning singer/dancer/actor (La Cage aux Folles, Forever Plaid at the Show Palace), with choreography by Alexus Nagy (Kristine in A Chorus Line, Welcome to Burlesque, The Wizard of Oz, Guys and Dolls, La Cage aux Folles).

Although the music is mostly from the 1960s, the show is recommended for all ages.

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