Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

The Marvelous WonderettesFlorida Studio Theatre
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's reviews of The Niceties, Long Day's Journey into Night


Sarah Ledtke McCann, Meredith Jones, Ann Flanigan,
and Chelsea Turbin

Photo by Matthew Holler
Jukebox musicals are not my favorite genre, although I enjoy them more if I am partial to the musical idiom being saluted. The Marvelous Wonderettes, created by Roger Bean and clearly with the idea of a female Forever Plaid, salutes popular music of the 1950s and then soft(ish) rock of the '60s. Mr. Bean has shoe-horned a semi plot into the two acts, the personal and romantic ups and downs of four high school girls, therefore songs need to fit. Those choices don't always reflect the best, most infectious songs from the available pool. Along with some really good songs, we are treated to a few mediocre ones,

The cast—Ann Flanigan as Missy, Meredith Jones as Betty Jean, Sarah Ledtke McCann as Cindy Lou and Chelsea Turbin as Suzy—are all thoroughly professional, both as actresses and singers, but they never rise to the levels of excitement that West Coast Black Theatre Troupe regularly offers. When Ms. Turbin leads the others in a late second act cover of Aretha Franklin's "Respect," I heard nothing of the original artist's guts and glory. Nice isn't necessarily enough.

Jason Cannon directs with a heavy hand—plot isn't this musical's strongest element. The chirpy excitement regarding voting for prom queen is sticky sweet. Ellie Mooney's choreography is true to the two periods and keeps the music front and center, helping focus the strengths of the piece.

Scenic design by Isabel and Moriah and Curley-Clay is eye popping—I sure wish my high school had fixed up that nice. Costume designs by Susan Angermann are spot on considering there is a plot point that they were executed by Missy in home ec. Work by lighting designer Thom Beaulieu and sound designer/supervisor Thom Korp are pluses, keeping this production on a higher level.

The Marvelous Wonderettes is a good choice to open a summer mainstage series. Sarasota audiences are likely going to take it to their hearts more than I do.

The Marvelous Wonderettes, through June 22, 2019, at Florida Studio Theatre, Gompertz Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information, call the box office at 941-366-9000 or visit www.floridastudiotheatre.org.

Cast (in alphabetical order):
Missy: Ann Flanigan*
Betty Jean: Meredith Jones*
Cindi Lou: Sarah Ledtke McCann*
Suzy: Chelsea Turbin*
*=Member if Actors' Equity Association


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