Theatre Review: “The Marvelous Wonderettes”
Swift Creek Mill invites us to take a trip back in time with “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” Featuring a diverse and supremely talented case of four ladies, Katrinah Carol Lewis (Missy), Georgia Rogers Farmer (Betty Jean), Aly Wepplo (Suzy) and Anna Starnes (Cindy Lou), this show is an up-beat, energetic start to Swift Creek’s 2012-2013 season.
The first act is set at the Wonderettes’ senior prom, where they have been scheduled to perform because the leader of the men’s glee club was caught smoking “Tobacco can kill and make you ill.” The group entertains the prom attendees with a set list of the decade’s most popular songs. With expert stage direction by Tom Width and musical direction by Paul Deiss, the Wonderettes were incredibly charming performing their numbers.
Aly Wepplo was my favorite Wonderette as she fully committed to her character Suzy, who has an affinity for chewing gum as she is constantly chopping on it or sticking it to her microphone while singing a song. Wepplo has a sparkle in her eyes that’s hard to resist especially when she’s directing her attention at her character’s boyfriend, Richie, who’s running the lights for the show. But not all the Wonderettes are as in love as Suzy as we find out Betty Jean and Cindy Lou are fighting over the same boy, Johnny, in the first act. Rogers Famer and Starnes take turns trying to outdo one-another during the show and the physical comedy between the two ladies is hilarious.
Katrinah Carol Lewis plays the meek Missy who really shines as the show continues. Lewis has a powerful soulful voice that gave me goosebumps as she hit her high notes; it was really fun to see her character gain confidence as the show progressed, especially when she reveals a “secret crush” and an unsuspecting audience member is brought up on stage.
The second act flashes forward 10 years to the Wonderettes 10 year reunion and we catch up with the ladies. The second act was a bit slow for me as the Wonderettes’ numbers are more about telling their individuals stories than putting on a concert in the first act.
Width’s set is charming and complimented well by Joe Doran’s lighting. I enjoyed the subtle changes from the first to second act like replacing the punch with champagne. Maura Lynch Cravey’s costumes were very well made and flattering on the ladies. The makeup for the second act set in the 60’s was excellent, but I was disappointed in the quality of some of the Wonderettes’ wigs as they looked stiff and were not very attractive. If you’re in the mood for a carefree, blast from the past I would definitely encourage you to spend a night being entertained by these “Marvelous Wonderettes.”
“The Marvelous Wonderettes” is playing through October 20th. For more information, visit www.swiftcreekmill.com
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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