‘With an excellent band, stellar cast and creative team behind it, this is a UK premiere which is destined to be revived again …’
Welcome to Springfield High School, 1958. Four girls at the high school prom dream of loves, friends, pop idols and their high school years. Set to the chart toppers of the 1950’s, the first act is a sugar-coated treat of ‘50’s harmonies. But isn’t until the second act, ten years later in 1968 at the high school reunion, where our four best friends really get to grips with what high school meant to them.
Originally produced at Milwaukee Repertory in 1999, Director Joseph Hodges brings the UK Premiere of this Off-Broadway musical to Upstairs at the Gatehouse.
Meet Missy (Sophie Camble), Cindy Lou (Rosie Needham), Betty Jean (Sophie Young) and Suzy (Kara Taylor Alberts) in a 1950’s ‘Under the Sea’ – esque dream of a prom night. Here, we begin with delicate pop harmonies and all with a sweet smile. It’s nostalgic fun and the production doesn’t shy away from covering us in sickly sweet ‘50’s pop tunes. ‘Dream Lover’ definitely sets the bar here for a little of an overbaked first half.
Fast forward to 1968, and the cast seems to relish much more what the 60’s had to offer to female vocalists. And it shows. Immediately with the opening number ‘Heatwave’, we are transported to the girls in their late-20’s and not everything is quite as simple as they planned in senior year. Motherhood, relationships and grief are all highlighted and brought to light by one emotive and entertaining performance after another.
Powerful ballads and vocals dominate the second half, and with songs like ‘Respect’, ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ and ‘Rescue Me’, it deserves a powerhouse ensemble. And these actors do not let us down. Sophie Camble particularly gives a heart-rending performance of ‘You Don’t Own Me’; a nod to the girls of the 50’s finding their voices as women in a brand new decade. Sophie Young delivers fantastic comic timing and physical comedy skills in ‘It’s My Party’ and Kara Taylor Alberts belts ‘Rescue Me’ with passion and finesse.
Choreographer Iona Holland and Musical Director Lauren Ronan pull out all the stops in ‘Leader of the Pack’ with Rosie Needham taking the lead this time; a real highlight of the second half with thanks to Sarah Mc Colgan’s poppy lighting design to aid the storytelling.
With an excellent band, stellar cast and creative team behind it, this is a UK premiere which is destined to be revived again in this country.
Joseph Hodges presents
The UK Premiere of the Off-Broadway Music Hit Musical Comedy
THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES
Upstairs at the Gatehouse 9 April – 12 May 2019
Box Office http://www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com/
Reviewer Emma Zadow is an actor and writer who trained at Rose Bruford