Now playing at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Marvelous Wonderettes is a jukebox musical featuring songs of the 1950s [Act I] and the 1960s [Act II] as performed by the eponymous "Wonderettes" Missy [Andrea Dotto], Cindy Lou [Meadow Nguy], Betty Jean [Alanna Saunders], and Suzy [Leanne Smith], a quartet from Springfield High School conscripted as substitute entertainment for their Senior Prom, and later entertaining at their 10-year reunion.
Written and created by Roger Bean, this 1999 script has developed into a small cottage industry of later iterations of these women's escapades. -- For audiences hooked on nostalgia, there is a lot to entertain: all those familiar songs ranging from "Mr. Sandman" to "Lollipop" to "Lipstick On Your Collar" to "Dream Lover"...you get the picture. -- And Mr. Bean's slight script lets us into the young women's personalities, relationships with men and rivalries with one another; all fairly predictable.
But the story is not the main thing that keeps audiences engaged. It's the music.
Director and choreographer Melissa Rain Anderson sets a lively pace throughout, and challenges the four actors to give it their all over the two acts. And there is a lot of talent on the Festival stage that hooks us into their stories and focuses attention on dynamic delivery throughout the two hour running time. -- Just sit back and enjoy the ride that the quartet delivers with enthusiasm and energy. It's non-stop entertainment of dozens of songs interspersed with laughter and tears as they discover and develop their friendships over time.
Adam Koch's scenic design replicates a polished high school gymnasium decorated for Prom, and costumes by Dottie Marshall Englis dress the characters in period looking outfits with matching dresses and shoes. Rob Denton's lighting keeps things brightly upbeat, and Lindsay Jones's sound design ups the volume to engage audience participation [several in the audience could be heard singing along with some of the songs].
The Marvelous Wonderettes is a welcome respite from more serious matters facing us today.