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Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Presents SHOUT! THE MOD MUSICAL ~ It's Groovy!

Directed by Seth Tucker, who gives the musical its proper share of shimmy and shake, SHOUT! THE MOD MUSICAL runs through April 18th.

Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Presents 

Five richly talented singers rock the stage in Arizona Broadway Theatre's production of SHOUT! THE MOD MUSICAL, Phillip George and David Lowenstein's 2004 tribute to the solid gold singles of the '60's.

Each is identified by the color of her attire. Together, they form a rainbow of finely detailed personalities who share in common their absorption with the fashion, the music, and the celebrities of that transformative period in British culture. The hits of the era speak to their personal challenges, their aspirations and complicated relationships, and their eventual growth. They obediently (for the time being) rely on the preachments of Gwendolyn Holmes, the prudish advice columnist of a popular fashion magazine by the name of (you guessed it!) Shout. All will, by the end of the decade, become self-realized and empowered.

Harley Barton is Yellow, the uninhibited and oozing-with-attitude American who has traveled the pond in search of Paul McCartney. Her infatuation is hilarious. Of the five, she rips through her songs with a roar. Her rendition of Dusty Springfield's classic, Son of a Preacher Man is downright stage-shaking.

Kait Russell's Green is the live wire with a flair for flirtation. Maris McCulley plays Blue, a self-absorbed fashion model with an emerging sense of her sexual preference. Amanda Valenzuela is Red, the quirky, self-conscious, and starry-eyed school girl whose ode To Sir With Love would make Lulu proud.

And, in marked contrast, Orange is the older of the group who worries that her husband is having an affair. Blair Beasley imbues Orange with a zest and power that is most fully expressed in her emotionally gripping take on another Springfield hit, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.

The five are fab when they join together in reprising other Billboard hits of the '60's that bring to mind the sterling voices of Cilla Black (You're My World) and Petula Clark (Downtown, Don't Sleep in the Subway). They are especially in fine fettle when they intone and actually mouth-trumpet the theme from the James Bond film, Goldfinger, made famous by Shirley Bassey.

The thread that strings their narratives ~ and their naïve Dear Gwendolyn letters ~ together is a series of trite Laugh In-style bits that frankly fall flat. That fault we'll lay on the composers and gladly endure as long as we have the benefit of the five songsters.

As a final word, it's worth putting SHOUT! into proper perspective. While its song selections are some of the more popular hits of the '60's (the original recording of (Twist and) Shout by the Isley Brothers peaked at #17 on Billboard's "hot 100" for 1962), and have certainly stood the test of time, they are not the jazz and rock and blues-inspired music (for example, by The Who, The Kinks, Small Faces) that truly reflected the essence of that decade's mod phenomenon ~ a dramatic break from convention by a subculture of British youth that defined itself by its distinctive preferences for bold and hip fashion and rhythm and blues music.

For the women of that era, the shift in attitudes and the move toward self-fulfillment and empowerment was equally pervasive. Such is the trajectory of Yellow/Orange/Blue/Green/Red as they transcend the fads and impulses of the '60's, come into their own, and, in a turn-of-the-decade moment of reflection, hymn movingly to Those Were The Days.

Directed by Seth Tucker, who gives the musical its proper share of shimmy and shake, SHOUT! THE MOD MUSICAL runs through April 18th.

Photo credit to Kat Barnes ~ L to R: Kait Russell, Amanda Valenzuela, Harley Barton, Maris McCulley, Blair Beasley

Arizona Broadway Theatre ~ ~ 7701 W. Paradise Lane, Peoria, AZ ~ 623-776-8400

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