The talent! The energy! The fun!
The Marvelous Wonderettes are indeed marvelous and wonderful, too.
The quartet consisting of Missy (Julia Ullrich), Suzy (Alison MacDonald), Cindy Lou (Makayla Moore) and Betty Jean (Ali Watson) ushered in the start of the 2020 season at the Chemainus Theatre on Valentine’s Day with non-stop pop hits and a throwback to a simpler time from their 1958 high school graduating class and the ensuing 10-year reunion.
The music will be nostalgic for those who were young enough then to live through it and old enough now to remember it. The younger generation just discovering it or having limited knowledge certainly won’t have a difficult time adjusting to seeing and hearing a different side to high school life.
The four Wonderettes all bring their fantastic voices to each of the memorable songs in the production, as soloists or in four-part harmonies. The sound, no matter what the song or tone – higher-pitched or soft – is breathtaking.
The gals do a great job of bringing memories of high school spats and good times to life for all of us. They return slightly more mature – but not much – for the reunion.
They keep pumping out the hits from start to finish, revolving around a storyline that gives us a chance to get to know them all a little bit. Through it all, even though time has lapsed and some of them have gone in different directions, their bond always remains strong.
The second act is quite fun after the girls return with all their stories in words and song of life’s heartaches and broken relationships while patching up others that have endured bumpy times.
The storylines lead right into each song brilliantly – almost in the same manner as Mamma Mia! did with all its Abba hits.
It’s In His Kiss/Wedding Bell Blues, You Don’t Own Me, With This Ring, I Only Want To Be With You, Son Of A Preacher Man all fall into place immediately after we hear about developments that occured in the girls’ lives.
And you just can’t help singing along to the lively renditions of each song or shuffling your feet in your seat.
A little audience interaction goes a long way with the Wonderettes. They make a pass through the crowd to collect ballots for voting on the prom queen and two “teachers” are singled out to complement various scenes.
First-time Chemainus Theatre director Julie Tomaino’s choreography stamp is all over this production, particularly during such numbers as the Leader of the Pack segment in the second act. Tomaino choreographed performances of Footloose and Grease at the theatre and has now added her hidden flair for directing.
“Everyone loves a jukebox musical,” Watson said in pre-show interviews and she’s right. There’s lots to love about the Wonderettes and they constantly make you smile, laugh out loud, burst into song or just leave the theatre happy.
The Marvelous Wonderettes keep the party going until March 28 and you’re welcome to drop into their gym at any time.
Mr. Lee’s rating: Nine lollipops out of 10.