Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Marvelous Wonderettes

When a friend had an extra ticket I realized that somehow I had never gotten to this revue show, roughly described as a female Forever Plaid. I'm not too fond of the genre - revues typically sit in some awkward space between concert and authentic musical theatre - but I did enjoy the first act of this one, set at a high school prom in 1958, for the enormously likable performers and for the string of hit parade gems such as "Lollipop" and "All I Have To Do Is Dream". But after the intermission the ole Revue Show Impatience set in when the action jumped to the gals' tenth year high school reunion performance - instead of deepening the characters or giving us the chance to enjoy seeing how the ladies have survived most of the socially turbulent 60's, the script is more of the same with diminishing results: thin, transparent set-ups for songs for each of the written-in-stone "types" in the quartet. It's a long way sociologically from "Mr. Sandman" in the first act to "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" ten years later in the second, but save for a pregnant belly here and a cursory mention of a divorce there, the gals are written to be inhumanly unchanged. Even given the feel-good, nostalgia-stirring limits of the genre, couldn't the second act have tried for some feeling of the late '60's the way the first tried for the '50's?

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