• Theater Review: Reliving the teenage ’50s
    By Jim Lowe
     | August 16,2014
    Photo by Tim Fort

    The Weston Playhouse Wonderettes are, from left, Haley Bond (Cindy Lou), Lauren Marcus (Suzy), Eva Kantor (Missy) and Ali Gordon (Betty Jean).

    WESTON — Remember your most embarrassing moments around your high school graduation? If not, “The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns” will be happy to remind you with telling tales and musical hits of the ’50s and ’60s.

    And, with the effervescent Weston Playhouse production at the Rod & Gun Club, you’ll not only be embarrassed, you’ll be charmingly entertained in your walk down memory lane.

    In 1998, playwright Roger Bean was asked to write a new musical for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s intimate black box theater, the Stackner Cabaret. Bean created a confection about high school song leaders of the ’50s and ’60s, best friends, boyfriends and the prom, using pop songs of the era to tell the story.

    “The Marvelous Wonderettes” was born a one-act musical in 1999, growing into two in 2001. When called upon as a last minute replacement, Springfield High song leaders Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy rally to entertain their classmates in tight four-part harmony. That was seen in Weston in 2010.

    Well, they’re back and graduating in “The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns” — and the second act is 10 years later at one of the girls’ wedding. At Thursday’s preview, it was all frothy fun, well-sung and -danced familiar songs — with just a touch of bawdiness.

    Lauren Marcus, who appeared in the 2012 premiere of “Pregnancy Pact,” was charmingly ditsy as Suzy, the happy-go-lucky class underachiever. Marcus’ performance was not only endearing, it was charmingly witty.

    Ali Gordon, Lucy in 2012’s “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” proved not only caustically funny, her deeper machinations gave the show unexpected dimension. Countering her was the class “pretty girl” Cindy Lou, played by Haley Bond, Nina in this year’s “Vanya and Sonya and Masha,” adding dimension herself.

    Eva Kantor, Penny in 2007’s “Hairspray,” was Missy, the class nerd and overachiever. Kantor made her character sympathetic, funny and even a trifle risqué. Daniel Keyer, the production’s music director, accompanied on the piano with flair.

    Directed by Tim Fort, one of Weston’s triumvirate of producing artistic directors, the production was fast-paced, polished and fun. Terrie Robinson’s choreography, save for the strange finale, was a pleasure. Collette Benoit’s costumes were attractive and appropriate, and Travis McHale’s lighting added to the drama.

    Weston Playhouse’s “The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns” is light summer fare, fun, not deep, but unexpectedly touching.

    Weston Playhouse

    Weston Playhouse Theatre presents “The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns,” the Roger Bean jukebox musical, Aug. 13-Sept. 7 at the Rod & Gun Club, 982 Route 100S in Weston. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 3 p.m. Wednesdays; plus 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays and Saturdays. Tickets start at $15; call 824-5288, or go online to www.westonplayhouse.org.

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