Some shows try to make you think, others try to make you feel, and still others try to change your perception of the world. But there is an oft overlooked category of shows that seek simply to entertain, like The Marvelous Wonderettes.
[pullquote]The Marvelous Wonderettes is built to entertain and it does just that. It is not complex, nor particularly thought-provoking, but it doesn’t mean to be. It is a good-natured, quality entertainment that fully accomplishes its goal: simply to entertain.[/pullquote]From the typos in the yearbook/program, to the championship banners hanging from the rafters, Footlight Theatre’s production of The Marvelous Wonderettes manages to achieve a perfect balance of sweet not saccharine, smart not pointed, and fun without seeming brainless. It is classic entertainment that lingers only in its sense of warmth – like a hug from an old friend.
The Marvelous Wonderettes begins with a flurry of giggles and taffeta during a pitch perfect rendition of “Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes. Singing at their 1958 prom, the Wonderettes, a high school girl group, excitedly announce that they have been selected to take over from the all-male glee club as this year’s entertainment. The quartet is made up of shy Missy, bubbly Suzy, spotlight-coveting Cindy Lou, and her best friend the sassy BJ (Betty Jean).
The first act follows the four friends through romantic revelations and classic hits such as The Chordettes’ “Lollipop”, Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover”, and “Lipstick on Your Collar” as made famous by Connie Francis. Act two sees the girls reunited ten years later at their 1968 reunion. Hairstyles have changed, relationships have progressed, but the comedy and musical talent remain the same as the girls end the show right back where they started.
The Marvelous Wonderettes is a cute show that will appeal to both those who delight in the nostalgia of “the good old days”, and those who love a good classic quartet. The live band adds an oomph that brings an air of authenticity to the shenanigans playing out on stage and the set styling by Steve Draper efficiently evokes the time period without being clichéd.
The four leads are a perfect balance of acting chops and musicality with the former embodied by Katherine Alpen’s comedic sensibilities and Carolyn Bergstrang’s commitment to character, and the latter by Sabrielle McCurdy-Foreman’s chameleon vocals mixed with Stefania Wheelhouse’s supple alto tones.
The Marvelous Wonderettes is built to entertain and it does just that. It is not complex, nor particularly thought-provoking, but it doesn’t mean to be. It is a good-natured, quality entertainment that fully accomplishes its goal: simply to entertain.
The Marvelous Wonderettes. Book by Roger Bean. Directed by Wayne Nolan. A Footlight Theatre Company Production. On stage at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts until November 15. Visit http://footlight.ca for tickets and information.