BWW Review: Lyric Arts Presents Wonderette Cup of Irresistible Cheer
Bright colors and jingle bell music magically appear on the Lyric Arts Main Street Stage while the time of year leaps back into December, 1968. Harper's Hardware holds their end of year Holiday Happening-or the company's seasonal party and everyone in the audience attends! Lyric Arts presents both the inviting entertainment for the company's happening in sync with their own December production through this charming, kitschy in the best way, girl group musical revue: "Winter Wonderettes." Written and created by Roger Bean in 2003, with lyrics and arrangements by Brian Baker, this "juke box musical" features catchy tunes to hum or rock out to while smiling "all the way" through the evening, and then "all the way home."
The epitome of the 1960's, accompanied by plenty of ho, ho ho's, four friends, Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy, sing their way through the holiday party while encouraging the Lyric Arts audience to participate. Before the performance, the four "girls" stroll through the audience complimenting and teasing their new "friends," as they do throughout the show.
Director Matt McNabb enlists audience members numerous times during the two plus hour performance to marvelous effect, a pitch perfect combination of interactive fun for a joyful evening. One special musical number invites "a man," supposedly Missy's new husband sitting in the audience applauding for her, to be Santa for a brief time on stage---during the run, each night will be deliciously different.
These four actors and bodacious songstresses-Alice Munson (Suzy dressed in blue), Kaitlin Dahlquist (Missy), Val Roder (Cindy Lou) and Sarah Frazier (Betty Jean)-banter right through the homespun hardware musical numbers and Rebecca Joy Raboy's choreography. Suzy dances while visibly expecting her third child, which inspires some humorous moments. Their retro visions of the 60's created by Costume Designer Sara Wilcox adds a vibrant touch to the minimal stage design allowing the actors and songs to shine under Musical Director Bradley Beahen.
Each of the four friends reveal their Christmas memories after intermission, touching the production with poignant interludes. Frazier's Betty Jean solos on "What are You Doing New Year's Eve?" while Missy performs a very sexy "Santa Baby." In a lovely and little sung ballad that counterpoints her seductive persona, Cindy Lou longs for "All Those Christmas Cliches" while Suzy also tap dances for the audience to the lyrics of her namesake, "Suzy Snowflake." Each character and song endears and entertains, with a few surprises in the story tucked into the revue.
Whatever the audience wishes for this holiday season, or during the longer days of December, Lyric Arts invites seasonal warmth with a generous cup of wondrous cheer to their stage. Winters can be chilling in Minnesota, so gather with friends and family for a fun evening dreaming of a "Marshmallow World," "Sleigh Ride," and a haunting "Snowfall."
Melt a few hearts through the magic of song this December. Celebrate the season and drink a cup of melodic cheer to reminisce your holiday memories, Then remember the words to these songs, some familiar and others a welcome return to the winter repertoire. Be sure to return and plan another memory in the making during the upcoming weeks with a trip to Lyric Arts' irresistible "Winter Wonderettes."
Lyric Arts presents Winter Wonderettes at the Main Street Stage, 420 East Main Street, through December 23. For tickets to the performance, or information about the season, please visit: www.lyricarts.org.