THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES: DREAM ONBy Roger Bean
Granbury Theatre Company
Director – Brian Lawson
Music Director – Jamie Deel
Choreographer – Brooke Goodson
Stage Manager – Cessany Ford
Set Designer – Kerri Pavelick
Costume Designer – Emily Warwick
Sound Designer – Joshua Carpenter
Light Designer – Kalani Morrissette
Assistant Light Designer – Whitney Shearon
Propmaster – Gaylene Carpenter
Betty Jean: Kelly Nickell
Cindy Lou: Caitlan Leblo
Missy: Emily Warwick
Suzy: Amber Lanning
Reviewed Performance: 9/23/2017
Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Brian Lawson did a magnificent job keeping the show balanced and well timed. Each character was unique, but they worked together to create a perfect ensemble. The pace of the show was just right; feeling neither rushed nor slow, and made time stand still.
The first act was set in 1969 at the Wonderettes' alma mater, Springfield High (go Chipmunks!) at the retirement celebration of beloved Mrs. McPherson. Mrs. McPherson, as well as a few other featured characters, are surprise appearances that are a delight to the audience. The second act was 9 years later, at the girls' 20 year high school reunion.
All four leads were reprising their roles from The Marvelous Wonderettes, and the chemistry among the group was obvious. Their voices were pure and rich. Each character had their time to shine, and shine they did. Music Director Jamie Deel brought the girls into perfect, graceful harmony. The balance between vocals and the band was spot on.
As Suzy, Amber Lanning was perky and fun to watch. Suzy was the stereotypical bleach blonde with perfect hair, who married her high school sweetheart (and the couple also happened to be prom king and queen.) Lanning played the part superbly, being perfectly ditzy, but still bringing depth to the character.
Missy, portrayed by Emily Warwick, was the mother hen of the group. She too married her high school love and the couple was happily raising a family. Warwick's voice was like butter, and her solos were absolutely glorious. She brought Missy to life beautifully.
Kelly Nickell was charming and funny as Betty Jean. Her on-again off-again relationship with her high school beau left a definite bitterness that became evident in the most comical expressions. She had the audience laughing but still sympathetic to her plight.
The most touching moment of the night was when Caitlan Leblo, as Cindy Lou, sang the Karen Carpenter hit, Groupie (Superstar). Cindy Lou's pain was evident, and Leblo's stunning alto drew me in the way few performers have.
Brooke Goodson's choreography brought the 60s and 70s to life flawlessly. The 60s were bouncy and cute, and the 70s included disco moves I remember doing myself. All that was missing was John Travolta in a white leisure suit.
Kerri Pavelick's sets were the epitome of 60s flower power and 70s disco. They included nice touches, such as running lights on the steps, large multi-layered flowers on the wall (think The Dating Game) and a magnificent metallic fringe curtain.
Warwick was also the costume designer, and she did a fabulous job. Each set of costumes was constructed from coordinating fabric and patterns, maintaining each girl's signature color. The addition of an identical fabric in all four of the 70s costumes was a nice touch. I don't know how long she had to search for a fabric that had all four colors, as well as a 70s feel. The styles were perfect for the two eras, with details that showed the thought and effort contributed by Warwick and her crew of costumers.
Light designers Kalani Morrissette and Whitney Shearon had a big job, but were up to the challenge. They provided a variety of effects and color palettes that kept the show interesting, and also provided a way for Suzy's husband, “the light board operator”, to communicate. Having done light design myself, I appreciate the time and trouble it must have taken to be subtle yet appropriately noticeable.
There wasn't a lot of demand for sound design during the show, but Joshua Carpenter's sound track during intermission was nothing short of genius. It included clips from television shows, popular music and news broadcasts that took you through the nine year gap between acts. This part of the evening was just as nostalgic as the actual musical.
In the same fashion, props design was minimal, but what props were provided by Gaylene Carpenter were just right. Particularly delightful was the framed certificate of recognition for Mrs. McPherson. The Marvelous Wonderettes: Dream On is a must see. I highly recommend including this hand-clapping pleasure in your plans for the next two weekends.
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