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THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES

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Created by Roger Bean

  • Dates: August 3 – 19, 2018
  • Times: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM / Sundays at 2 PM
  • Ticket Prices: $30 for VIP / $25 for General Seating (Student & Senior Discounts Available)

    Directed by Dwayne Harris
    Music Direction by Paul Feyer
    Choreography by Tracy Funke

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THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES

The Little Theatre of Manchester (LTM) will present THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES, the long-running Off-Broadway smash hit by Roger Bean, replacing the previously announced LEADER OF THE PACK.

Using more than 30 chart-topping hit songs from the 50s and 60s to tell its story, THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES takes a cotton-candied colored journey to the 1958 Springfield High School prom where we meet “The Wonderettes”, a female quartet with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts! THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES will keep audiences smiling in this must-take musical trip down memory lane from prom night to their ten-year reunion, performing such classics as “It’s My Party,” “Mr. Sandman,” “Lollipop,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Leader of the Pack,” “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” “RESPECT,” “You Don’t Own Me,” “Rescue Me,” and more.

LTM Executive Director, Dwayne Harris, directs this production. “These songs, we hope, will bring back wonderful memories for most of the audience and expose a younger generation to the delightful music of the 50s and 60s.”

In addition to THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES, Roger Bean wrote and created the popular jukebox musicals Summer of Love, The Andrews Brothers, Route 66, Honky Tonk Laundry, and Why Do Fools Fall In Love? THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES received the 2007 LA Ovation Award for Best Musical for its record-breaking Los Angeles run and continues to be an audience favorite in regional and amateur theatre companies throughout the country.

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CAST of CHARACTERS

KC Beauregard
Sara Fabrizio
Allison Sawtelle
Kelly White

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The Marvelous Dream/$7 @ the Bar

For all performances, enjoy a PLAYFUL COCKTAIL mixed by our friends at
Hartford Flavor Company!

The Marvelous Dream
2 oz Wild Moon Cucumber
1.5 oz Gin
.25 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

“Uncork and smell the gust of bright green ripeness and sun-warmed cucumbers wafting from the bottle. Fresh and sweet aromas of honeydew and Japanese melon candy confront both tongue and nostril simultaneously at the first sip. The mouth-feel is one of diluted honey offering roundness to the clean flavor of cucumber that remains on the palate.”

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By David Garnes

The Marvelous Wonderettes is a “Jukebox Musical.”

What is that, you might ask?

The word “jukebox” is key, for a couple of reasons. Some of us remember when jukeboxes were part of the social fabric of American culture. As machines that actually held a wide variety of popular records, they allowed you to pay a few cents and select your favorite tune from a list of dozens. The large “boxes” were also flashy and colorful to look at, sometimes with blazing with gaudy neon. Later, smaller jukeboxes often adorned individual booths in restaurants.

Applied to a theatrical show, a jukebox musical usually means that the show is a compilation of songs previously heard, most likely on the radio or on listening devices (can’t say just “records” anymore). In a jukebox musical, there may be a book or a story, of sorts, and some choreography, but usually, the primary concept of the show is to provide a backdrop for an ample sampling of whatever the theme of the “jukebox” tunes happens to be.

The theme varies: It can be the hits of a particular performer or group (think Jersey Boys and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons or Mamma Mia and ABBA); it can be a review of a particular composer or team of composers (think Lieber and Stoller and Smokey Joe’s Cafe). It can also be a particular musical phenomenon or genre (think Motown: The Musical), or it can be an expanded version of a so-called “concept” record album (think American Idiot and the group Green Day).

Important note: Musicals such as Grease and Dreamgirls are NOT “jukebox musicals.” Why? The songs were written FOR the show, not compiled.

Often what adds to the appeal of a jukebox musical is a certain nostalgia for the period or the type of music presented. And that is certainly the case with our show The Marvelous Wonderettes.

We’re going back—not way back, for some of us—but for some, it will be to a period only known of because of your parents or grandparents and certain rock ‘n roll or music of your life radio stations. I’m talking about the 1950s and 1960s era of American popular music.

What I think is unique, however, about The Marvelous Wonderettes, is that the scope of this musical is ambitious. Originally conceived by the renowned Milwaukee Repertory Theater as a one-act workshop in 1998 by one Roger Bean (who, by the way, has gone on to create several other jukebox musicals), the show expanded into a two-act production in the early 2000s. It was a big hit in Los Angeles and enjoyed a run there for several years. It played off-Broadway for several years in 2006-2008, and a current off-Broadway production has been playing at the relatively new group of small theaters over on west 42nd street called Theater Row. So it’s had staying power, for sure.

But back to the ambitious scope of the show: We’re taken back to a fictitious Springfield High School and 1958, but then the second act advances to a 10-year reunion in 1968. What we have, therefore, is a compilation of songs that show the incredible changes that occurred during these two decades. American pop music changed dramatically during this period that encompasses the Eisenhower years and then the momentous events of the 1950s that forever changed music and just about everything else.

Though the cast and songs are meant to spotlight the girl groups of these two decades, individual female singers are also featured. For example, we have echoes of Doris Day and Patti Page, the two biggest female recording singers of the 50s, as well as popular girl groups such as the McGuire Sisters and the Chordettes. I should also mention that this period—the fifties—was a time when the Hit Parade songs of the week were tunes that everyone knew and listened to. The big divide between the songs that appealed to adults and those that a younger generation liked hadn’t yet really taken place. That all began in the 60s.

But, wait—that’s what the second half of The Marvelous Wonderettes will show us. There was an increasing focus on songs that were more rebellious in nature, from “You Don’t Own Me” (Lesley Gore) in 1963 to “Son of a Preacher Man” by the great Dusty Springfield and “Heatwave” from the Martha and the Vandellas and, of course, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”

So I guess my backstory take on The Marvelous Wonderettes is that, more than you might think, it’s not only a walk down a nostalgic memory lane but also a commentary on how pop music both reflects and affects the period in which a particular song flourishes.

In a review in the New York Times of the 2008 revival, the critic wrote: “The production enjoyed a long run in Los Angeles, and with good reason. For a certain generation — and all fanciers of the girl-group sound — this is an utter charm bomb.”

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