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Review: Nostalgic and Warm MARVELOUS WONDERETTES May Be the Cure For What Ails You

Victoria Reed Directs Talented Cast in Heartwarming Musical Revue at Williamson County Performing Arts Center

Review: Nostalgic and Warm MARVELOUS WONDERETTES May Be the Cure For What Ails You
Mary-Molly Storey, Jaclyn Bri Wood, Rachel Calvosa and Molly Brown
are The Marvelous Wonderettes at Williamson County Performing Arts Center.

- photos by Michael Hutchinson

There's really nothing better for what ails you - particularly on a cold, wet and dreary Sunday afternoon - than a stroll down memory lane and thanks to a tuneful trip to the 1950s and '60s with The Marvelous Wonderettes, a nostalgic and enormously entertaining musical revue by Roger Bean, may be just the ticket to a surefire cure.

Recently onstage at Franklin's Williamson County Performing Arts Center, in a joyful production directed and choreographed by Victoria Reed, The Marvelous Wonderettes is guaranteed to usher in all sorts of memories to flood your mind and warm your soul and, thanks to the stellar efforts of Reed's enormously talented cast, you're sure to leave the theater with a song in your heart and a certain lightness in your step.

Review: Nostalgic and Warm MARVELOUS WONDERETTES May Be the Cure For What Ails You
Rachel Calvosa as Cindy Lou

Bean's slight, if endearing, book for Wonderettes (which inspires its various sequels, including Winter Wonderettes, Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns and Marvelous Wonderettes: Dream On; there's also a fourth show The Marvelous Wonderettes: Glee Club Ediiton that features a large cast and melds together parts of the original title and Caps and Gowns) focuses on four friends at two very consequential times in their lives: their senior prom and their tenth year high school reunion. The issues the four young women face are, admittedly, of the sitcom variety, but remain universal, ensuring that virtually anyone will find much to enjoy when in the company of Cindy Lou, Betty Jean, Missy and Suzy, particularly if they are played by Rachel Calvosa, Molly Brown, Mary-Molly Storey and Jaclyn Bri Wood.

Review: Nostalgic and Warm MARVELOUS WONDERETTES May Be the Cure For What Ails You
Molly Brown as Betty Jean

Bean strings together a confectionary tale of cootie catchers and flaming batons, broken hearts and secret crushes that bring a kinder and gentler time to life in grand style. Fantastic though that may sound, it works to grand and entertaining effect WCPAC, allowing audiences to feel a part of the onstage theatrics and ensuring a tuneful trip back in time that leaves you humming along and begging for more. Perhaps Ms. Reed and her winning foursome can be persuaded to bring their characters back to the stage in one of the sequels...

Rachel Calvosa is delightful as the somewhat duplicitous and flirtatious Cindy Lou, and she is joined onstage by Molly Brown as the scene-stealing Betty Jean, the artsy-craftsy Missy played with flair by Mary-Molly Storey and Jaclyn Bri Woods brings vivacious Suzy to life. The four are best friends and rivals for every high school honor and superlative possible, and during the show are vying for the title of prom queen, which allows them to come together to perform the show's memorable score with passion and a whole of lot of verve.

Review: Nostalgic and Warm MARVELOUS WONDERETTES May Be the Cure For What Ails You
Jaclyn Bri Wood as Suzy

Each woman is ideally cast and each creates an indelible character in the process. Calvosa, whose voice is nothing short of amazing, is confident and self-assured as Cindy Lou, while Brown clowns her way around as BJ, cloaking a much-deeper personality than first imagined. Storey's Missy is kind and thoughtful, if sort of shy and retiring in her way, masking a beguilingly unprepossessing personality. Wood is an adept comic, delivering her lines with perfect timing and her songs in fine voice.

Reed's direction keeps the onstage frivolity flowing smoothly throughout both acts, ensuring a perfect pace. Audiences are treated to a scant two hours of musical riches that are a salute to the girl groups of a bygone era whose musical legacies endure well into the 21st century.

Review: Nostalgic and Warm MARVELOUS WONDERETTES May Be the Cure For What Ails You
Mary-Molly Storey as Missy

"Sincerely" and "Sugartime" - both hits from The McGuire Sisters (I have to confess I love Phyllis and her siblings) - are performed to perfection, and there are tributes to the work of Lesley Gore ("It's My Party" and "You Don't Own Me") and Ellie Greenwich ("Leader of the Pack" and "Maybe I Know") to chart the course of the evolution of the American woman of the 1950s and '60s. Then there's "Teacher's Pet," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Stupid Cupid" (I once sat next to Connie Francis during a flight from West Palm Beach to Nashville and she regaled me with stories from her wonderful career - I was starstruck!), "Secret Love," "Rescue Me" and "Respect." You're likely to be familiar with every song in the hit-packed score and they are certain to evoke your own memories.

The Marvelous Wonderettes. Written and created by Roger Bean. Presented by Williamson County Performing Arts Center, 112 Everbright Avenue, Franklin. Directed and choreographed by Victoria Reed. Stage managed by Jarman Marcellus. November 4-6.


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From This Author - Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 35 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner l... (read more about this author)


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