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BWW Reviews: Allenberry's New Show Will Make You Want to SHOUT!

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There's not much better on a warm evening than going out under the trees and hearing music. Admittedly, you have to leave the trees to go inside at Allenberry Playhouse - for some people the outdoors may be a distraction between Allenberry's fiendish sticky buns and the stage - but when you're there in the woods near Boiling Springs, and you sit down and five perky Sixties charmers are singing Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield for you while peace signs and yellow submarines go by, it's impossible not to enjoy yourself.

SHOUT! THE MOD MUSICAL is an all-female Sixties revue set in Swinging Sixties London, with a loose theme about the changing roles of women and a bigger theme of having a great group of singers letting go on stage in a colorful song and dance explosion. The Off-Broadway show by Phillip George and David Lowenstein, directed at Allenberry by artistic director Ryan Gibbs, isn't full of complex plot like SWEENEY TODD, depressing moments like EVITA, or the slightest hint of deep philosophical musings like LES MIS. If you're trying to find complexity, you're not with the program. These are five Sixties girls hoping to have fun, whether it's by getting married to the right man, playing the field, or becoming a Beatles groupie, and singing the music they were hearing on the radio at the time. In between, in hilarious break segments, they write to women's magazine advice columnists who are completely out of touch with modern youth.

The unnamed girls are known to the audience by their outfits and personalities. Blue Girl is Allenberry's own Elizabeth Angelozzi, who does a great pantomime to a skin cream commercial as well as a rousing "Don't Sleep in the Subway." Melanie Kann is Green Girl, who's always settling down... for the week or the month... with Mr. Currently Right. Her "Goldfinger" is no Shirley Bassey impression, but a kicking version of its own performed with enthusiasm. Beth DeMichelle is Red Girl, the one who's afraid she's being left out - skinny, gawky, young, maybe Not Enough, though she's a perfect Twiggy charmer. She delivers a "To Sir With Love" that can draw sniffles. Orange Girl is Allison Mickelson of last season's phenomenal MAME; she's the one that wants to get married and be a housewife, only to find herself drinking her way through the vacuuming. "Wishing and Hoping," one of the great Dusty Springfield ballads, works for her character, and with her voice; it's good to see her back on the Allenberry stage. And then there's Yellow Girl, Katie Sexton, the American Beatlemaniac who lives to spot the love of her life, Paul, and who doesn't want to get sent home to the States.

The costumes, set, and music conspire to create a wildly amusing mélange of Beatles movie, Austin Powers grooviness, and LAUGH-IN recollections. From "I Know a Place" to "Son of a Preacher Man" (Yellow Girl's spotlight number, and Sexton can burn down the house with her performance) to a James Bond opening pantomime that's almost a CHARLIE'S ANGELS action spoof as staged, the Sixties are alive, well, and in-your-face. There's everything from musicals to ballads to torch songs, with a side dose of Nancy Sinatra and some flashy, splashy boots. And, just incidentally, the titular Isley Brothers' song, of course, "Shout!"

It's hot out. We're not adjusted to the summer weather yet. Don't overheat your brain when you can cool off with a tribute to the coolness of the Sixties. Wear your miniskirts, your Birkenstocks, and your grooviest love beads, and chill out to a live tribute to swinging London. Go ahead. You know you'll be humming "I Only Want to be With You " until you do.

At Allenberry Playhouse through June 14. Be there, or indeed be square, man. It's the happening show of the season. Call 77-258-3211 or visit www.allenberry.com for tickets and information.


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