Sunday, November 29, 2009

review - Winter Wonderettes

CRITIC'S PICK
Winter Wonderettes
written & directed by
Roger Bean
musical arrangements by Brian Baker
Moulton Theatre
Laguna Playhouse
through December 30


What makes a successful musical revue? Look no further than Roger Bean and his Wonderettes, the Marvelous Wonderettes, that is. It's Christmas, so they're the Winter Wonderettes and what sheer heaven! They sing and dance and never stop moving for 90 minutes with enough delicious schtick for 2 shows. Whatever works, keep it coming!
It's 1968, about ten years after we've last seen the Marvelous Wonderettes, and we find our gals working for Harper's Hardware in Springfield; it's the annual Holiday Happening, and you guessed it, the gals are this year's entertainment. We are treated to 25 endearing tunes, among them "Little Saint Nick", "O Tannenbaum" "Jingle Bell Rock" and "A Marshmallow World", among many others, all with beautiful vocal arrangements by Bean and Brian Baker. Misty Cotton as Missy, Julie Dixon Jackson as Betty Jean, Bets Malone as Suzy and Susannah Hall as Cindy Lou make up the tight ensemble. They are all dynamic singers and harmonize like a quartet of angels. Cotton soars with "Santa Baby", Jackson seduces with "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?", Hall wins our hearts with "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day" and Malone is a scream with "Suzy Snowflake" and "Donde Esta Santa Claus?" Together, there's nothing finer than "Snow Fall" or "Winter Wonderland".
Moments of silliness abound, as with Suzy's brainstorm game Find the Elf. It involves a tiny hand puppet that will...well, the whole encounter will leave you in stitches. There's an hysterical medley with "It's Christmas Time All Over the World", a crazy audience participation with "Ring Those Christmas Bells" and a body hoppin' "(We Wanna See) Santa Do the Mambo".
Director Bean's frenetic pacing is fantastic and choreographer Janet Miller keeps our girlfriends happily busy, busy, busy. For those attempting to mount a revue of this type, pay heed to this clue: more action, less cause for boredom.
Vicki R. Davis does wonders dressing the girls in glorious shades of dark blue, and her set design, though a tad overdone with XMas decore, confines the performers' moves to centerstage and keeps the show as intimate as possible.
Winter Wonderettes is a joyous, tuneful merry, merry Christmas present that never wears thin. In fact, it will keep you happy all year long. It's adult fare, though, so take the kiddies elsewhere... to the Grinch or Mary Poppins!
5 out of 5 stars

1 Comments:

Blogger millerontap said...

Thanks so much, Don! Glad you had a fun time in Winter Wonderette Land!

November 30, 2009 at 8:11 AM  

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