The Marvelous Wonderettes
Abby Perkins, Amy Miller Brennan, Lindsey Core and Julie Kleiner in 'The Marvelous Wonderettes' (Source:Patrick Fitzwater)
Slow Burn Theater Company, in their first co-production with The Broward Center, opened their 2014-2015 season with "The Marvelous Wonderettes" in the Abdo New River Room.
Presented as dinner theater, this jukebox musical from Roger Bean was a delight for all the senses: bouncy, nostalgia inducing tunes, sparkly glittery costumes and mouthwatering food. The opening night was a success and the rest of the run is likely to be as well.
Of course anytime you open up a program and see the name Amy Miller Brennan in the cast, you know that you're in for an evening of great singing and acting. Brennan has been a staple of the South Florida musical theater scene for the past several years and can be relied upon to give outstanding performances time and time again. She won a Carbonell award for her performance in last year's "Ruthless" at Actors Playhouse.
Brennan's role as Cindy Lou in this current musical was almost tailor made for her and allowed her to show off her voice and talents throughout the two hour show. She bubbles and flits her way through the role as the bitchy wannabe prom queen/boyfriend stealer but ultimately good friend.
Luckily, Brennan did not have to do all the work. She was surrounded by a cast that is equally as talented. In the role of Suzy, Lindsey Corey gave us the bubble gum chewing klutz in the first act and a perfect pregnant mother in the second act. Julie Kleiner played Betty Jean, the tomboy of the group, to perfection and Abby Perkins played Missy, the peacemaker and oddball of the quartet.
All four women are stellar singers as soloists and managed to create a cohesive blend of their voices when singing together. Musically "The Marvelous Wonderettes" was as sharp and slick as one could hope and really gave the audience the sounds that are so reminiscent of the great girl groups of the 1950's and '60s.
There is not a lot of plot to "The Marvelous Wonderettes." The story shows us four women at their senior prom in 1958 and then at their ten-year high school reunion in 1968. As far as a story line goes, it's really just an excuse to let the actresses emote a little bit between the music. It's the songs that drive the show and this show is filled with some of the memorable showstoppers.
In Act One, we get treated to such hits as "Mister Sandman," "Sugartime," "All I Do is Dream," "Teachers Pet" and "Sincerely," just to name a few. Brennan does lead vocals on "Allegheny Moon" and the Ruth Brown classic "Lucky Lips." Corey gives us a perfect and upbeat "Stupid Cupid" while Kleiner throws comedy at "Lipstick on Your Collar," both of which were originally hits for Connie Francis. Perkins gives us an emotional and well sung rendition of Doris Day's ballad "Secret Love."
In Act Two, the music flows more to a '60s feel and we start off with the Motown classic "Heatwave" which is followed by a funk rendition of "Mister Sandman." Other highlights of the act include "Wedding Bell Blues" sung by Perkins, "That's When The Tears Start" sung by Kleiner, "Son of a Preacher Man" sung by Brennan, and "Rescue Me" sung by Corey.
Director and Choreographer Patrick Fitzwater and musical director Manny Schvartzman have done great jobs with these girls as their work is invisible and all of the movement seems natural and organic and the music is spot on and solid.
Costume designer Rick Pena created 8 gowns and wigs that perfectly invoke the time periods which they represent and the set, created by Roger Predmore, Benjamin Loeb and Jessica Hollen, was a perfect backdrop for the four women on stage.
The food, served preshow with dessert at intermission, was reasonably priced at $10-$14 per plate and even though the items are called 'small plates,' the portions are generous and ample, so go early and go hungry.
This entire production of "The Marvelous Wonderettes" was a joy and delight. Amy Miller Brennan, Lindsey Corey, Julie Kleiner and Abby Perkins sing and dance their hearts out over the course of two hours and provide the audience with first class entertainment.
"The Marvelous Wonderettes" runs through Nov. 23 in the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts 201 SW 5th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. For tickets and information, call 954-462-0222 or visit browardcenter.org.
Jack Gardner has been producing theater in Dallas and Fort Lauderdale for the past 8 years. He has performed in operas, musicals and dramatic works as well as doing voice-over and radio work. Jack lives in South Florida with his three dogs.