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BWW Review: 'SHOUT!' at Diamond Head Theatre

Shout! definitely deserves a shout out!

BWW Review: 'SHOUT!' at Diamond Head Theatre

Many of us, including myself, have missed the theatre, the place where audiences are imbued with a jubilant escape, which unfortunately hasn't been able to happen for the past year, as the island of Oahu reaches its one-year mark of having officially being put on lockdown due to the Coronavirus. Though, with Oahu finally easing up on restrictions due to Covid, Diamond Head Theatre (DHT) was finally able to mount its first musical since The Sound of Music in 2019. And, while 2020 was definitely not one for the books, it was an utter delight to finally be able to book tickets for Shout! at DHT, where the staff has set and maintained strict social-distancing protocols, with a mask mandate, subsequently providing spectators with more peace of mind. One can only imagine how tricky it might be to stage a full 90-minute musical with actors on stage, lots of movement and choreography, and the potential risk of cross contamination due to the consistent mask-less singing. However, director-choreographer John Rampage and the cast of five talented ladies superbly pull it off!

Shout! follows the lives of five women existing in a 1960's- and early-1970's London, who each read Shout! magazine, frequently writing to advice columnist Gwendolyn Holmes for advice on how to navigate through various personal issues they are facing. Sung, acted, and danced impeccably by five leading ladies, all given the title of a color---'Green Girl' (Kim Anderson), 'Orange Girl' (Bailey Barnes), 'Red Girl' (Megan Ellis), 'Yellow Girl' (Vanessa Manuel-Mazzullo), and 'Blue Girl' (Tricia Marciel)---the way each actress inhabits her role and concomitant personality leaves nothing to be desired, as each have their own stark personalities and struggles, ranging from marriage and self-image issues, sexuality and sexual liberation, and obsession with one notable musical star, Paul McCartney. While these five women don't have direct connections/friendships with one another, the staging of the show by director Rampage created such an engaging viewing experience, in which the choreography and staging literally have the actresses intertwining with each other, metaphorically contributing to the overall thematic idea of the show, which I perceived as basically about, through their individual issues and subsequent intertwining, how their personal issues ultimately relate to the idea of coming into one's own and not only finding their individuality but also proudly embracing them in a progressing society. Each character is given a song or two and a moment to shine, and the performances of the solos by each actress help to hone in on their aforementioned issues, which is always a strength in theatre, as it allows the audience to better connect with and understand the characters, which is what each actress does here. Whether it's an upbeat, smile-inducing song like "Coldfinger" or "Son of a Preacher Man" to a more somber and meditative one like "You're My World/All I See is You", the various songs in this musical allows for individual audience members to find resonance with it. What's especially impressive about the production of this show is---as told to me by friend Manuel-Mazzullo---that the entire rehearsal process, including musical rehearsals and 'tech', was completed in a mere 17 days! And, based on how well done and precise the show's pacing and choreography are, this is a particularly impressive feat. Not to mention, the costume design by Karen G. Wolfe and Hair and Make Up Design by Linda Lockwood both deserve a shout out, in which my personal favorite costume and hair design was that of the Green Girl's. Ultimately, so many aspects of this show are worth praising.

Overall, Shout! was a joyous, much-needed experience to behold. From the witty performances, to the charming songs, to the precise direction, to the delightful costumes and hair and make up design, they all contributed to a fantastic 90 minutes at the theatre. The show closed this past weekend, but I hope this review brought attention to the wonderful value Diamond Head Theatre brings to the island's community, especially during these challenging times!

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