Book by Roger Bean
Various Composers & Lyricists
Directed by Larry Raben
Golden Apple Dinner Theatre
25 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-5454
Jan, 12 through Feb. 21, 2010

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

This juke box musical is well aimed at an audience well versed in having used juke boxes, the prolific substitutes for live performances before and throughout the '50s. That's where most of the songs get pulled from to replicate young groups' smooth harmonies and exaggerated gestures in the first part of The Marvelous Wonderettes. Harried, the titled young women must replace male Crooning Crabcakes who haven't shown up in Springfield High's gym to headline 1958 Senior Prom entertainment. That's on top of running for prom queen! Small wonder the construction paper hearts decorating sides of the stage and each standup mic aren't bleeding. Despite internal jealousies, though, the gal group's sounds are sweet as "Lollipop, Lollipop"s. Why not? They all "Dream, Dream, Dream" of love and romance. Kyle Ennis Turoff's Betty Jean whips them into shape, and they keep synchronized. (An on-stage projection of the job done off-stage by director Larry Raben?) Though Heather Kopp as sexy Cindy Lou is obviously Betty Jean's rival, Missy (Sarah Farnham) is shy. But she has a "Secret Love" about whom she very strongly sings. It's not stressed-out Suzy's beau, even though she (Samantha Barrett) is obviously worried about her boyfriend's love.


Ten years later, at their high school Reunion, the Wonderettes perform an encore with some old favorites but also '60s new hits. They're in coordinated pastel chiffon dresses over miniskirted sheaths now, and bees would come to rest less easily in their hair-dos. But Suzy, though married and pregnant, is still doubtful of her man's fidelity. Missy has landed the guy she sang about; he's a surprise. The other gals definitely have made up with each other and, by the group's "Thank You and Goodnight" time, reveal how they've made out. Meanwhile, there's one nostalgic number after another. And these include "Leader of the Pack" and a good sampling of Motown music! Happily, it's live, live, live, from four fine musicians directed by John Visser.


Audiences seem to like participating, posing onstage and dancing off during the two hours after dinner at the Golden Apple.

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