BWW Reviews: Cuteness Abounds in Conejo Players Theatre's THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES
Cuteness abounds in Conejo Players Theatre's THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES
The concept: A high school prom in the first act filled with songs from the 1950's. A 10-year reunion in the 2nd act filled with songs from the 1960's. One set. Four girls. Sounds pretty simple, yes. NOT! As the choreographer for the original production of WONDERETTES, Janet Miller, told me this is a simple concept but "...it is a deceptively difficult show".
And, herein lays the issue with this particular production.
First off, let me compliment the four young ladies (Abbey Cluster, Janelle Phaneuf, Annie Woolweber, and standout Anna Mintzer) for doing a bang up job. They are absolutely adorable and tug at the audience's heartstrings so that by the end of the show (when these young ladies are doing what they do best: swaying, singing, giving, and just being), we have forgotten about all of the bleeps and blunders throughout the evening.
A bleep: The canned music and the sound system. I am not a big fan of having canned music but when one needs to use it (whether budgetary constraints or concept) it is imperative that one must have a sound system that will allow the music to be piped in so that it complements the singers and allows the music to be heard. This was not the case. There were times when the balance was so off that this reviewer only heard the vocals and hardly any music. This was most noticeable in the first number when the balance was so off that it seemed to throw the performers off resulting in rather off harmonies.
A blunder: The choice of staging and choreography (a tad odd and jilted) in the 2nd act. One of the uniqueness and challenges of this musical is the interesting possibilities for scene work and choreography around the four mics and being placed, for the majority of the show, up on a "stage". In this production, the director chose to bring the majority of the action in the 2nd act off of the make-shift stage. This would work, and did, during the scene work but once the music started and the choreography began, she kept the action on the "floor" which then dissolved the line between the "show" and "real life". This is one of the deceptions stated earlier. Keeping them up and around the mics would have provided some unique opportunities for character development and would have challenged the director, choreographer, and actors alike within the small space and would also provide a more specific and detailed difference between the "show" and "life". I believe this was also the original idea for the production. I understand a director wants to put his/her own stamp on a production...but if it isn't broke, why fix it?
The saying "the devil is in the details" may apply to the majority of the elements in this production, but by no means does it apply to the set, set decoration, and props. Kudos to Arryck Adams and Tami Keaton for creating a believable yet theatrically creative environment that brings a higher element of quality to this production.
When all is said and done, on the night this reviewer attended the show, the audience loved the four Wonderettes (as well they should). Aside from a being a show about life after high school and what happens to people when they drift apart and re-evaluating and reformatting relationships, it is a show about the songs. Almost every audience member was around at that time and takes a trip down memory lane for two hours with four adorable tour guides.
If you are looking to support local theatre and take your own trip down memory lane...the prodcution runs through August 3rd, 2014 playing Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00pm with Sunday matinees at 2:00pm. TO ORDER TICKETS: Go online to www.conejoplayers.org or call the Box Office at 805.495.3715
The Cast of Conejo Players Theatre's THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES