OGDEN — The Marvelous Wonderettes, the current offering at the Terrace Plaza Playhouse is a lovely musical review of the ’50s and ’60s which follows four young ladies first performing at their prom in 1958, and then in the second act, at their 10 year reunion in 1968. This inventive storyline allows for a great deal of entertaining diversity in songs as well as costumes. Having the ten year time span also allows for a surprising amount of unexpected character development for such a light-hearted show.
The show has only one set, the stage of a high school gymnasium, with signs for the prom in the first act, and signs for the reunion in the second act. Director and set designer Shelby Ferrin did an excellent job of making a colorful, vibrant set that accentuated the work of the actresses without distracting the audience. Most impressive was the ability of the set to move when the actresses needed it to with ease. I was also quite impressed with the props, which were a fun addition to songs such as “Lollipop” and “Leader of the Pack.” The costumes made by Tami Richardson were quite impressive. Each of the four characters were represented by a color, and I enjoyed how there was uniformity within both acts, while also paying attention to the difference in fashion between the decades. I also noticed the hairstyles, and commend wig specialist DD Lynch for the fabulous period hairstyles for each of the four cast members.
The challenge of doing a jukebox musical is that the music is very familiar and beloved by most of the audience. The show’s creator, Roger Bean, gathered some of the most popular female group songs of the “oldies” era, and used those songs to cleverly forward the plot of the show. The way that “It’s My Party,” “Leader of the Pack,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” and many others, were written into the script was quite ingenious. However, with such familiar music, not producing the songs in a way that will please the audience is always a risk. Luckily, music director Charlene Adams was up to the challenge, providing excellent arrangements with the help of strong staging and choreography from Bailee DeYoung.
Finally, much can be said about each of the actresses. Lindy Page plays the nerdy teacher’s pet, Missy Miller. Page was an excellent example of the shy and demure character that finally lets her hair down and shows just how talented she happens to be. For Page, there were several moments that showcased her talent, such as the wonderful feelings she was able to portray in the number “Teacher’s Pet.” Cariel Gooodwin plays the cute girl that all the boys love, Cindy Lou Huffington. However, throughout the course of the play, the audience gets to see her character develop, and how Goodwin was able to use her skills as an actress in order to portray that development. Throughout the first act, Cindy appears slightly narcissitic, as portrayed in the song “Allegany Moon.” However by the time she sings “Leader of the Pack,” Goodwin has been able to help the audience build a great deal of empathy and sorrow for Cindy.
Laura Jane Adams, who played Betty Jean Reynolds, was the personal favorite of my daughter who had attended with me. Ms. Adams had excellent facial features when she was trying to portray stress, anger, frustration, and sadness. She did an excellent job of singing a very popular song, “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To.” She also had some great comedic moments during “Allegany Moon.” Annie Ferrin, who played the lovestruck Suzy Simpson, was excellent with physical comedy, especially in the second act when the passing decade had produced some pronounced differences in her. Yet, the way she carried her body during the choreography of the second act provided for great comedic relief for the audience.
I would say the best part was how the four actresses worked together and played off each other. They seemed to be able to read each other and catch even hidden cues to make sure the evening was executed smoothly. In addition, their musical harmonies were lovely and strong. The Marvelous Wonderettes was an overall enjoyable production. The familiar music set to a new story was an entertaining way to spend an evening in Ogden.