Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre opened its 2018 Season with the North Florida premier of “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” The musical, which runs through February 4, 2018, is the first of nine shows included in the Alhambra’s schedule this year; eight are musicals.
“Wonderettes” was written by Roger Bean who has created a number of jukebox musicals in the past. It debuted in 2007 and has delighted audiences throughout the country with trips down memory lane.
The first act is set in 1958, when four talented girls with stand-up microphones are on stage at Springfield High School (Go Chipmunks!) on Prom Night. They are dressed in flirty candy-colored crinolines and proceed to sing twenty great songs from the fifties; songs which include “Mr. Sandman,” “Secret Love,” “Born too Late,” and “Allegheny Moon.” Between numbers, we get glimpses of their personalities as they relate short stories – stories that we seem to remember from our own high school experiences. This lighthearted comedy explores the hopes and dreams of likable teens with stage presence who are looking forward to a grown-up future.
The second act is set ten years later and the same four characters, now women pushing thirty, are once again on stage, providing the entertainment for their high school reunion. The ladies are wearing white boots and Pucci-inspired patterned dresses in vivid colors, while sporting fancy hairdos. They have different lives now, with problems that involve marriage, pregnancy, and relationships.
Director/Producer Tod Booth has an outstanding cast of talented performers, whose voices weave songs into memories. Yes, voices that are as sweet and powerful as honey and lightning!
In the second act, each character has a set of songs that describes her life. Missy is portrayed by Erica Lustig, who appeared previously in the Alhambra’s “Sister Act.” She is the leader of the group and her life-story songs include “It’s In His Kiss,” “You Don’t Own Me,” and “With this Ring.” She is in love with “Mr. Lee,” a faculty member who is portrayed by an audience member selected at random. The Gala Night’s Mr. Lee threw himself into the role and was hilarious.
The talented Kayla Tomas, whom you may remember from the Alhambra’s “The Addams Family” appears as Betty Jean, the class tease and cut up. Her set includes the sixties oldies “I Only Want To Be With You,” “That’s When The Tears Start” and the hit “It’s My Party.”
Actress Juliana Davis, who appears as Cindy Lou was seen as Violet in the Alhambra’s “9 to 5.” Cindy takes what she wants when she wants it. Her set of songs reflects this as she sings “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Leader of the Pack,” and “Maybe.”
Newcomer Lindsay Nantz is making her Alhambra debut as Suzy, a role she has played elsewhere. Suzy is in love with the guy who runs the lights in the show. She gets lots of laughs with the gum she chews and then sticks on the microphone before singing. Her set of songs includes the very popular “Rescue Me” and “Respect.”
You may recognize Jocelyn Geronimo who made her debut as choreographer at the Alhambra. She is well known as a theatre teacher, performer, director, and choreographer throughout the North Florida area. The dancing wonderfully complemented the music and the singing.
This show is funny and heartfelt, and will stir up your own memories of high school life. And it is a delightful way to spend an evening with a marvelous ensemble cast.
The production staff included Tod Booth (Director/Producer), Jocelyn Geronimo (Choreographer), Cathy Murphy Giddens (Musical Director), Patti Eyler (Stage Manager), Juliana Davis (Dance Captain), The Costume Crew (Costume Designers).
The Alhambra Theatre and Dining is located at l2000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. Call (904) 641-1212 or visit alhambrajax.com for reservations.