The Chemainus Theatre Festival is kicking off their 2020 season with ‘The Marvelous Wonderettes’. (submitted)

Chemainus Theatre opens 2020 season with nostalgic musical comedy

The Marvelous Wonderettes debuts on Valentine’s Day

The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s next production, nostalgic musical comedy The Marvelous Wonderettes, debuts on Valentine’s Day, and they think you’re going to love it.

Roger Bean had just opened his first show at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre when they immediately asked for another show the following year. While visiting family at Christmas, his mother happened to bring out her college yearbook, and showed Bean some photos of when she was a songleader (a singing cheerleader). She performed in the class talent show during high school. According to Bean, The Marvelous Wonderettes, which runs until March 28 in Chemainus, became a show to honour her.

Bean was originally working with a limited backstage space when writing The Marvelous Wonderettes. He needed to create a script in which the actors could remain onstage for the majority of the show. Originally, when it was first produced in 1999, the show was only one act. Bean has grown the original show to its current two-act version. The addition of the second act allows for the character development to become fully realized as we meet four young women first in high school, and then a decade later at their reunion.

This smash Off-Broadway hit opens on the set of a high school gymnasium, a massive stage, and the 1958 Springfield High School prom. Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzzy make up the Marvelous Wonderettes — four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts. The 50s music of the first act are the popular songs of teen love: ‘Mr. Sandman’, ‘Stupid Cupid’, ‘Lipstick On Your Collar’ and more. The plot follows with the girls fighting and making up over teenage inconveniences: who leads a song, who stole who’s man. But they make up every time. With their reunion 10 years later, the music of the 60s is more mature and rebellious to reflect the issues and problems The Wonderettes now find themselves facing as adults. Together, the four sing songs such as ‘You Don’t Own Me’, ‘Leader Of The Pack’ and ‘Respect’. Throughout the whole experience of the first and second acts, the audience follows the journey of female bonding, friendship, and crisis.

The pop doesn’t stop in this musical, and the Chemainus Theatres says they guarantee you’ll be singing long after the curtain closes. The play is directed and choreographed by Julie Tomaino and the cast consists of Alison MacDonald, Makayla Moore, Julia Ullrich, Ali Watson and a live band. This is a cast of familiar faces, with everyone having been on stage at the Chemainus Theatre before.

Call the box office at 1-800-565-7738 or visit chemainustheatre.ca to book your tickets. Show enhancements are available and include free “talk-backs” with the cast following Wednesday performances, meet and greet with the cast following most talk-back opportunities, and the option to make it a getaway with an accommodation package at the Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn that includes a deluxe breakfast buffet, use of the indoor mineral pool, hot tub, and fitness centre.

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