BWW Interview: Take a trip back in time with Marietta Theatre Company's THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES
Do you ever hear an old song and wish that you could be transported back to that time period? Look no further than The Marvelous Wonderettes, the story of four young women and their friendship throughout the 1950s and 1960s. With a score consisting of over 20 chart topping songs from the decades that defined pop music in American culture, audiences are sure to love the timeless tunes from this show. We spoke with Director Elizabeth Weaver and star Meaghan Paetkau ahead of the show's April 13th opening.
How's the process of putting together The Marvelous Wonderettes been going so far?
EW: What I like most about this production, from a director's standpoint, is that we actually have three directors to make the show happen: a great musical director, a great choreographer, and a great director to bring it all together. They have about 36 songs that they sing and dance to during a two hour production. It's a lot of music and choreography - two time periods, the 50s and the 60s. We tend to go pretty traditional and stick to the time periods. From the look of the set, the costumes, to the style of the dance. But the best part of putting this particular show together, is that we are an all-girls group and production team!
MP: I agree with Elizabeth, it's definitely a fun show from an actor's standpoint. It's harder than you might expect. Anytime you do a jukebox musical, where everything is in certain decades. For example, all of Act One sounds similar, and all of Act Two sounds similar. But for us, having to do four-part harmonies and our solos in each act, you sort of expect the songs like "Dream Lover" or "Mr. Sandman" and to be able to pick those up easily. But then in rehearsal, some of our parts run together and it was hard to distinguish which part was whose! So it's a lot harder than anticipated, but it is so much fun. We put in a lot of hard work, but have been having a blast in rehearsal.
Most of the songs in the show are well known pop hits from that era that the audience will be familiar with. Can you talk about how the show weaves those songs into the production?
EW: There are four girls in the show, and two pairs of best friends. We hear a story line between Missy and Suzy, and Cindy Lou and Betty Jean who are best friends. The writers of the show, Roger Bean and his group, have done a really great job of taking those songs from those time periods and creating an interesting storyline that's not overly involved. You really know you're there to hear some great music, but there are also multiple storylines that are taking place behind the process. We deal with Missy the perfectionist who wants everything to be the same all the time, and has a secret love. We have Cindy Lou who has been the head of everything, beauty queen, always pretty. We have Betty Jean who is a bit of a tomboy and has a great sense of humor. And then Suzy who just wants to be everyone's friend. We deal with their issues as teenagers, and then what it's like ten years later when they come back together.
MP: I was pleasantly surprised at how each song was woven into the storyline. Each character has their own moment in Act One, and then each have our own section in Act Two. The songs are intimately related to what's going on in their life, and where their path has gone over the past ten years.
Meaghan, from a vocal perspective, do you find that there's any pressure to live up to the expectations that everyone knows and loves with these songs?MP: Yes and no! You want to do all of them justice because everyone does recognize them. But at least for my generation, these songs have often been covered by so many different artists doing different renditions. So people may not always have the exact original version of the song in their head, they just know it's familiar. I think it just depends on the generation.
EW: What I love is when they are telling a story though a song, and they've added their own interpretation to get their point across. That's when I find some of our best moments in the show.
Recently, there's been quite a few productions across TV, film and musicals that take place in this 50s and 60s time period. What do you think is so interesting about that time period and how can today's audiences relate?
MP: I love that there's a wholesomeness about it. It's definitely a show for the whole family. My real-life sister is actually in this show with me, and she plays Suzy (Collean Cooke). We have other siblings who were asking us if they could bring their kids to the show. We told them, "Well, we do say the word Butthead, but that's about as bad as it gets!" It has a wonderful family quality to it. When you picture the 1950s, everyone has an image in their mind of the LEAVE IT TO BEAVER type of family and everything being wholesome. It just seemed like a simpler time in the lens of our show, which makes it fun to do.
EW: What I like about directing this production is that it's full of things you want to hear. We have seen a lot of "guy group" productions that center around this time period, so it's nice to see one that stars women. Baby Boomers love their music and that's a great crowd for us, but there's also this whole new audience that still knows the music, and they now get to see it as it was presented originally.
Do you have any other exciting projects coming up after this show?
EW: We close The Marvelous Wonderettes on the 28th of April, and I have auditions the following day for a production of Once Upon a MATRESS that I'm directing for the Cue West Players. No rest for the weary! Its exciting to go from one show to the next.
MP: I have a group with my sister Collean who plays Suzy, and our older sister Erin. We have our own sister's girl group called Carbon Copy that's a decades pop revue. We're getting back into work with that group and booking some future stuff!
THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES will show at the Lyric Studio on the Square from April 13 - April 28, Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and are on sale now at https://mariettatheatre.tix.com.
Meaghan Paetkau is a GA native and is excited to return to her first passion of musical theater as a Marvelous Wonderette! Meaghan trained locally at Pebblebrook High Schools Cobb County Center Of Excellence in Performing Arts and then went on to study Musical Theater at The Boston Conservatory. She then went on to be a lead vocalist for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for 11 years.
Elizabeth H. Weaver is a native of Marietta, GA. For the last 29 years she has worked for Cobb County Cultural Affairs Division and has directed dozens of musical theatre productions. Elizabeth also serves as a personal chef and caterer.