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Music, relationships at forefront of Marvelous Wonderettes

September 30, 2018

TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (AP) — With a cast of four and a simple high school auditorium stage as its set, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” allows the audience to focus on the interaction of the actresses as they reminisce about their lives and perform hits from the 1950s and ’60s.

Director David Hope said the off-Broadway play by Roger Bean has never been performed in the Shoals.

Hope said it takes four very talented actresses because they not only have to pull off their roles, they also have to perform 32 songs that involve some very tight three and four part harmony.

“It’s really a vehicle for these great ’50s and ’60s songs,” co-director Dennis Clark said.

Clark, who is also the new artistic director at the Ritz Theater, said the first act of “The Marvelous Wonderettes” is set in 1958 in a high school auditorium in “Springfield USA.”

“There is probably a Springfield in every state in the U.S.,” he said.

The four girls, Suzy, Betty Jean, Missy and Cindy Lou, are preparing for their performance at their senior prom. The first act introduces the girls and what’s going on in their lives. It also features 1950s pop hits like “Allegheny Moon,” ″Lollipop,” and “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.”

The stage will reflect the 1950s as will the girls’ costumes and hair styles.

The second act takes place 10 years in the future and the women are now preparing to perform at their 10-year high school reunion, Clark said.

This time, they’re reminiscing about what has happened in their lives over the past 10 years and perform a new set of pop hits from the 1960s. You can expect classics like “Leader of the Pack,” ″Son of a Preacher Man” and “It’s My Party.”

The stage, dress and hair styles also reflect the 1960s, he said.

“They’re the entertainment for their high school prom and then they’re the entertainment for their 10-year reunion,” Hope said.

The play opens Oct. 4 at the Ritz Theater in Sheffield and continues through Oct. 6. Two additional performances are set for Oct. 11-12.

Hope said the cast includes Mikayla Camp as Cindy Lou, her sister, Grace Camp, as Suzy, April Simone as Missy and Logan Hill as Betty Jean.

Unlike plays with larger casts, the four actresses are on stage during the entire production.

Hope said the dialogue is often used to segue into a song. It’s often done in a humorous way, sometimes kind of corny, like when one of the girls is having a bad time and her friend comments “snap out of it, this is supposed to be a party.” The other girls says “it’s her party and she’ll cry if she wants to.”

Fans of pop music can easily guess what song is coming.

“It’s all bubble gum and cotton candy and just a great deal of fun,” Hope said.

Fans of female pop groups known for their harmonizing will enjoy the play and it’s appropriate for preteens through seniors, Hope said.

“Kids today still listen to a lot of that music,” he said.

Bobby Bozeman, the Marketing and Program Development Director for the Tennessee Valley Art Association, said guests are invited to wear period 1950s and 1960s style clothing to the performances. Each night, a group photo will be taken with audience members who dress in period clothing.

More details are available on the official Ritz Theater Facebook page.

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Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/

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