Think back on your senior prom. The music was probably bad, everyone sported cheap, rented tuxes or overly expensive dresses, and calling the action on the floor “dancing” would have been a creative use of the word, at best. Do you even remember who won prom queen? Flashback to a different era. It’s 1958, and the teenage girl group, The Marvelous Wonderettes, have a one-night-only engagement at this high school rite of passage. The stage is set for a night to remember in the Main Street Players’ charming production.
“The Marvelous Wonderettes” is a 1999 jukebox musical compiled by Roger Bean that features the classic bubble gum pop songs of the 1950s and ‘60s. In the show, four best friends perform these vintage tunes at their senior prom, at which all of them are nominated for prom queen. It almost goes without saying that the claws come out, and drama bubbles up from under the surface. The second act jumps forward a decade to Springfield High’s 10-year reunion, where the girls are now grappling with more adult relationship issues.
The show took a few songs to settle into a rhythm, as the first few numbers were marred by pitch issues in the doo-wop harmonies, but strong performances from the cast’s quartet of actresses managed to turn the momentum around to create an engaging and lively evening. Each crafted a distinct, memorable character; from the ditzy Suzy (Gabriela Tortoledo) to the tomboy Betty Jean (Emily Barona) to the diva Cindy Lou (Carolina Pozo) to the brash Missy (Brianna Mackey).
The most memorable sequences of the show were the sequential songs each girl crooned to her “dream lover.” Not only did the lead vocalist have a chance to show off her pipes (Barona in particular wowed the audience with her rich soulful tone), but the background singers were incredibly in character in their reactions behind her. Cat fights over stolen boyfriends, support for the broken-hearted and shock at the revelation of hidden loves were built from the cast’s commitment to their over-the-top roles. While “The Marvelous Wonderettes” forays into more dramatic territory felt slightly forced, its sugary comedic nature ultimately prevailed.
The intimate setting of a small theater made the incorporation of elements of audience participation, including voting for prom queen, feel like a natural extension of the experience. Gentlemen, beware: you could be chosen from the audience to have a featured role in the show as Mr. Lee, Missy’s secret teacher crush. Tech was simple, but well-executed, particularly the appropriately cheesy lights (designed by Marcelo Ferreira) and the period appropriate costumes (designed by Josette Gillette).
In the end, the Main Street Players’ production of “The Marvelous Wonderettes” is like cotton candy; sweet and delightful, but ultimately insubstantial. That’s not a condemnation. Indeed, it’s refreshing to see a show that so unashamedly displays its saccharine nature. Come for a good time, leave with a smile on your face, and enjoy this light romp for what it is: a candy-coated blast from the past.
If you go:
“The Marvelous Wonderettes”
Where: Main Street Players, 6766 Main St., Miami Lakes
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays
Cost: $18 for students, $25 regular price
For more information, call 305-558-3737 or visit mainstreetplayers.com.