“The Marvelous Wonderettes” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ January 16, 2012


Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

There’s a fun 1958 Senior Prom at Phoenix Theatre in the entertaining “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”  The musical tells about a quartet of female high school singers who entertain at the prom by presenting popular musical numbers from that year.  By the second act, 10 years have passed and the girls are now housewives, mothers, and career earners who gather at a high school reunion and pick up where the group left off as they sing new hit songs.

There’s some story as the girls struggle with typical teenage challenges like boys and it’s interesting to see how the women turn out during the reunion.  But the superficial and predictable story is inconsequential because the show’s selling point is the wonderful succession of pop hits that entertain mightily as the top notch performers sing the familiar songs.

There’s not much director/choreographer Robert Kolby Harper can do with the Roger Bean created collection of tunes.  Harper does add lots of cute and entertaining little bits of comic business as the effervescent cast belts the tunes out with winning style and panache.  This isn’t a great musical but you can’t go wrong with the nostalgic entertainment.

Just a few of the song titles indicates how well the show captures the era’s music.  You can’t go wrong with “Mr. Sandman,” “Allegheny Moon,” “Secret Love,” “Sincerely,” “It’s My Party,” or “Son of a Preacher Man” among the over 30 songs the girls sing.

It’s impossible to single out any performer as they are all excellent creating and playing their characters and their singing is infectious and captivating.  Anya Absten’s Cindy Lou is the de facto group leader much to the chagrin of Katrina Hagofsky’s Betty Jean.  Cindy Lou steals Betty Jean’s boyfriend creating some tension, while Shayla Benoit’s Suzy seems to be a swinger but turns out to be the trapped housewife ten years later.  Jennifer Bennett’s prim Missy is the group’s goodie girl whose inhibitions stifle her desires to have fun.

Conductor Alan Ruch’s four person musical ensemble provides great backup and Carey Wong’s period sets and fussy frocks keep you in the period mood.  “The Marvelous Wonderettes” continues through February 5.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: B


One Response to ““The Marvelous Wonderettes” – Phoenix Theatre”

  1. Critics L-O-V-E (That Spells Love) The Marvelous Wonderettes « phxtheatre said:

    Jan 18, 12 at 16:14

    […] Read the entire review here. […]