The Marvelous Wonderettes

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The Marvelous Wonderettes
Music Various
Lyrics Various
Book Roger Bean
Productions 1999 Milwaukee
2001 Milwaukee
2006 Los Angeles
2008 Off-Broadway

The Marvelous Wonderettes is a musical comedy with a book by Roger Bean. It was recently played off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre in New York. The show, which uses pop songs from the '50s and '60s as a vehicle to tell its story, pays homage to the high school Songleader squads of the 1950s. When called upon to perform at their senior prom as a last minute replacement, Springfield High Songleaders, Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy, rally together to entertain their classmates in four-part harmony.

The songs they sing during the course of the musical include: "Lollipop"; “Dream Lover”; “Stupid Cupid”; “Lipstick on Your Collar”; “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”; "It’s My Party"; and "It’s In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)".

The original off-Broadway cast included Beth Malone (Betty Jean); Victoria Matlock (Cindy Lou); Farah Alvin (Missy); and Bets Malone (Suzy). The musical opened September 14, 2008 at Westside Theatre in New York. Vocal arrangements and Musical Direction were by Brian William Baker and Roger Bean; choreography was by Janet Miller; the show was written and directed by Roger Bean and the creative team includes: Michael Carnahan (Sets), Bobby Pearce (Wigs and Costumes), Jeremy Pivnick (Lights) and Cricket S. Myers (Sound).

History[edit]

In 1998, fresh off a run of Bean's first musical, Don't Touch That Dial! at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Bean was asked to write a new musical for their intimate black box space, the Stackner Cabaret.Bean suggested a musical about high school song leaders from the '50s and '60s, best friends, singing at prom for their best friends and boyfriends. He would use pop songs from the '50s and '60s to tell story of the characters. In this way, The Marvelous Wonderettes was born in 1999.

With limited backstage space, Bean needed to write a script in which the actors could remain onstage though most if not all of the show. Thus the original one-act version of The Marvelous Wonderettes came to be. Through the years it has grown from its much simpler one-act format to its current, fully realized, two-act version. In 2001 the show headed back to Milwaukee Rep for an extended run and played at several other theaters around the country.

In 2006, Bean met producing partner David Elzer, who along with Peter Schneider helped to create a fantastic Los Angeles production of the show, which ran at the El Portal theater for two years and received Ovation nominations and awards. The Marvelous Wonderettes opened at the Westside Theater in New York City on September 14, 2008 where it ran until January 3, 2010.[1].

Synopsis[edit]

Act I[edit]

The story takes place at Springfield Highschool, it's prom night and the gym is decorated with homemade decorations. The show begins when the school's principal, Principal Varney welcomes the class of 1958 to their Super Senior Prom and introduces the night's entertainment, The Marvelous Wonderettes. As the lights come up on the girls they sing "Mr. Sandman". Each in their respective colors; Missy – tangerine, Suzy – blue, Cindy Lou – pink, and Betty Jean – green. During the song it becomes apparent that Suzy is dating the guy running the lights for the prom, Ritchie Stevens. After introducing themselves, the girls begin their second song of the evening "Lollipop" which transitions into "Sugartime". After the song, the girls show off the cheer that won them third place at the State Song Leaders' competition and say thank the teacher who leads their team, Mr. Lee. When Betty Jean runs off to put their trophy in the school trophy case, Cindy Lou seizes her opportunity to steal Betty Jean's song, "Allegheny Moon". Hilarity ensues when Betty Jean returns to find that she's been duped. She tries her hardest to ruin Cindy Lou's performance, but Cindy Lou finds a way to recover. After the song, Suzy and Missy explain to the prom goers (audience members) the events which led to them providing the entertainment that evening. Turns out that the boys from the glee club were supposed to perform, but the lead singer, Billy Ray Patton, was suspended from school for smoking ("Tobacco can kill, and make you ill."), so Mr. Lee called on The Marvelous Wonderettes to take their place. The girls announce that the theme of the prom is "Marvelous Dreams" and segue nicely into a medley of "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and "Dream Lover". Missy then announces the nominees for that year's Prom Queen, who will get to choose her King after winning the vote. All four of the Marvelous Wonderettes are nominated along with Judy Carter, a girl who they have homeroom with. Then it's time for the dreamcatcher, which will determine the order in which the girls will sing their solos. Suzy is selected to go first. In her giggly excitement, Suzy announces that her song is for her prom date, Ritchie, and then begins to sing "Stupid Cupid". Next up is Betty Jean, who sings "Lipstick on Your Collar", during which we discover that her boyfriend, Johnny, has been cheating on her with Cindy Lou. A confrontation between the two girls, is broken up by Suzy who urges Betty Jean to calm down and continue with the performance. Cindy Lou is up next and singe "Lucky Lips". As she sings, Betty Jean stands in the background mocking her performance, attempting to thwart Cindy Lou, but once again, Cindy Lou recovers gracefully. The only one left to sing is Missy, who sings "Secret Love". After her song, she announces that her secret love is Mr. Lee, the girl's Songleader Leader. Mr. Lee (who was chosen from the audience at the top of the show), is brought on stage and the girls serenade him with the songs, "Mr. Lee", "Born Too Late", and "Teacher's Pet". After returning Mr. Lee to his seat, and announcement is made over the loudspeaker that it's time for the talent portion of the Prom Queen competition. Missy explains that in order to keep things moving along, the rules committee has decided that all the girls will perform their talents simultaneously and only have 30 seconds in which to perform. Judy Carter has been excused from the talent portion because of a doctor's appointment. The girls scramble to set up their talents. Cindy Lou shows off a myriad of poses, Missy sings her best note over and over again, Suzy uses a lemon twist while blowing giant bubbles with her gum, and Betty Jean rushes to set up her fire baton routine, but the buzzer goes off before she has time to even light the baton. Now it is time for everyone to vote for Prom Queen. The audience take out their ballots (included in the playbill) and circle their choice for prom queen as the girls wander through the theatre collecting the completed ballots. When the ballots are collected they are given to the girl's French teacher, Miss McPhereson, who is supposed to count them. As the ballots are being tallied, the girls sing a medley of "Sincerely" and "Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight". At the end of the song, it is announced that Suzy has been voted Prom Queen! Cindy Lou, who expected to win, is distraught, Betty Jean couldn't be happier that Cindy Lou lost, and Suzy is so surprised she chokes on her gum. Missy announces that now it's time for Suzy to pick her Prom King. The girls ask her three questions, and through Suzy's answers discover that she has, to no one's surprise, chosen her prom date, Ritchie Stevens. Since she won, Suzy gets to sing a spotlight song, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me", which swells at the end when the other girls join in. The girls gather around and congratulate Suzy, except for Cindy Lou who reaches out to touch the crown as the lights fade and intermission begins.

Act II[edit]

Act two begins with Principal Varney welcoming everyone back to Springfield High School and their ten year reunion! The Marvelous Wonderettes are back to entertain everyone for the night. "Heatwave" begins to play and Cindy Lou, Betty Jean, and Missy appear to sing it. Noticeably missing is Suzy. When she finally enters, the audience discovers that she is pregnant. After the song, a brief reintroduction is made and the girls sing "Mr. Sandman" in tribute to their prom performance. RItchie, who is now Suzy's husband is back running the lights, but it becomes apparent that there is trouble in paradise and that Suzy and RItchie have run into some tough times in their relationship. To cheer her up, Missy decides to take out the dreamcatcher that they used at their senior prom. Despite her insistence that she put it in her purse that morning, Missy can't find it, so she decides they'll just ask each other the three questions that Suzy answered after winning Prom Queen. She says she'll go first, and the girls ask the questions; 'Are you in love?' to this Missy answers, 'yes'; 'Is he someone we know?', another 'yes'; 'Is he here tonight' one more 'yes' and Missy spills the beans. She has been dating Mr. Lee for the past five years. Now she has some questions for him, which she asks in her songs, "It's In His Kiss" and "Wedding Bell Blues". Cindy Lou doesn't like what she sees, she thinks Missy shouldn't have to beg Mr. Lee for a marriage proposal and helps her reclaim her confidence with the song "You Don't Own Me". After the song ends, Cindy Lou discovers that Mr. Lee has had the dreamcatcher the whole time. She returns it to Missy who discovers that Mr. Lee has attached an engagement ring to it! Overjoyed with the proposal, Missy breaks into song again, singing "With This Ring". Mr. Lee is brought back up on stage and the girls join Missy in singing as the happy couple celebrate. Now that the dreamcatcher has been returned, the girls use it to select the next performer, Betty Jean. Missy tells us that it is Betty Jean's birthday as she takes the stage to tell us what she's been up to since high school; working at the neighborhood hardware store with her husband, the boy who used to cheat on her with Cindy Lou. Turns out things between her and her husband are just as bumpy now as they used to be. Lamenting, Betty Jean sings "I Only Want to Be With You". At the conclusion of her song she notices her husband spending time with Judy Carter. She sings "That's When The Tears Start" followed by "It's My Party". Cindy Lou attempts to comfort her, but Betty Jean is still angry with her about the events which took place in high school. It's Cindy Lou's turn to perform next and she apologizes to Betty Jean as best she can before talking about her lack of luck in Hollywood which resulted in her moving back to Springfield and falling in love with Billy Ray Patton, the rebel whose suspension from school 10 years earlier had led to the girl's performing. She sings "Son of A Preacher Man" and "Leader of the Pack" followed by "Maybe". After her song, Betty Jean opens her arms to Cindy Lou again and the two are reconciled. Now it's Suzy's turn to take the stage. She is self-conscious of her pregnant body and still an emotional wreck about her personal life. She sings through tears, "Maybe I Know". Missy tries to cheer her up singing, "Needle In A Haystack". Suzy, slowly gaining confidence begins to sing "Rescue Me", but doesn't find her strength until her friends step up and support her in singing "RESPECT". At the end of the song, Ritchie blinks the lights to let Suzy know that he still loves her. In the end all is well again; Cindy Lou and Betty Jean are friends, Missy and Mr. Lee are getting married, and Suzy has reconnected with her husband. The girls sing "Thank You and Goodnight" to close out the show. As they exit they announce 'See you in 1978!'.

Musical numbers[edit]

ACT I ACT II
Mr. Sandman Heatwave
Lollipop Mr. Sandman Reprise
Sugartime It's In His Kiss
Wedding Bell Blues You Don't Own Me
All I Have To Do Is Dream With This Ring
Dream Lover I Only Want To Be With You
Stupid Cupid That's When The Tears Start
Lipstick On Your Collar It's My Party
Lucky Lips Son of a Preacher Man
Mr. Lee Leader Of The Pack
Born Too Late Maybe
Teachers Pet Maybe I Know
Sincerely Needle In A Haystack
Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight Rescue Me
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me RESPECT
Thank You and Goodnight/Sincerely

Cast Album[edit]

An original Off-Broadway Cast Recording was recorded on September 18, 2008 at Avatar Studios, NYC. The recording features the voices of original Off-Broadway cast members, Beth Malone, Victoria Matlock, Farah Alvin, and Bets Malone. It was produced by Jeffery Lesser, Philip Chaffin, Roger Bean, David Elzer and Peter Schneider.

Track Listing

  1. "Welcome / Mr. Sandman" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:33
  2. "Lollipop / Sugartime" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:55
  3. "Allegheny Moon" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:55
  4. "All I Have to Do Is Dream / Dream Lover" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 3:42
  5. "Stupid Cupid" – Bets Malone – 1:23
  6. "Lipstick on Your Collar" – Beth Malone – 2:08
  7. "Lucky Lips" – Victoria Matlock – 2:01
  8. "Secret Love" – Farah Alvin – 2:20
  9. "Mr. Lee / Born Too Late / Teacher's Pet" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 5:16
  10. "Sincerely / Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 4:04
  11. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:44
  12. "Welcome Back / Heat Wave" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 1:58
  13. "It's in His Kiss" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 1:26
  14. "Wedding Bell Blues" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:06
  15. "You Don't Own Me" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 1:46
  16. "With This Ring" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 1:29
  17. "I Only Want to Be With You" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 1:33
  18. "That's When the Tears Start" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:45
  19. "It's My Party" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:36
  20. "Son of a Preacher Man" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:16
  21. "Leader of the Pack" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 3:02
  22. "Maybe" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 3:32
  23. "Maybe I Know" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 1:27
  24. "Needle in a Haystack" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 1:22
  25. "Rescue Me" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 1:04
  26. "Respect" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 2:50
  27. "Thank You and Goodnight / Sincerely" – Farah Alvin, Beth Malone, Bets Malone, Victoria Matlock – 3:18

Past Productions[edit]

Milwaukee: Milwaukee Repertory Theater Opening: April 8, 2001
Cast:
  • Laurie Birmingham (Betty Jean)
  • Jacquelyn Ritz (Cindy Lou)
  • Becky Spice (Missy)
  • Bets Malone (Suzy)
Los Angeles: El Portal Forum Theatre Opening: September 29, 2006
Cast:
  • Julie Dixon Jackson (Betty Jean)
  • Kristen Chandler (Cindy Lou)
  • Kim Huber (Missy)
  • Bets Malone (Suzy)
Off Broadway: Westside Theatre Opening: September 14, 2008
Cast:
  • Beth Malone (Betty Jean)
  • Victoria Matlock (Cindy Lou)
  • Farah Alvin (Missy)
  • Bets Malone(Suzy)
Coral Gables, Fl: Actors' Playhouse Opening: September 30, 2009
Cast:
  • Julie Kleiner (Betty Jean)
  • Amy Miller Brennan (Cindy Lou)
  • Lisa Manuli (Missy)
  • Tiana Checchia(Suzy)
Long Beach, Ca: Musical Theatre West Opening: April 17, 2010
Cast:
  • Beth Malone (Betty Jean)
  • Darcie Roberts (Cindy Lou)
  • Lowe Taylor (Missy)
  • Bets Malone (Suzy)
Cincinnati: Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati Opening: April 21, 2010
Cast:
  • Sara Mackie (Betty Jean)
  • Denise Devlin (Cindy Lou)
  • Mia Gentile (Missy)
  • Brooke Rucidlo (Suzy)
Houston, TX: Stages Repertory Theatre Opening: July 14, 2010 – March 14, 2011
Cast:
  • Christina Stroup (Betty Jean)
  • Rachael Logue (Cindy Lou)
  • Chelsea Ryan McCurdy (Missy)
  • Holland Vavra Peters (Suzy)
  • Sofia V. Mendez (Swing/All Characters)
Coral Gables, Fl: Actors' Playhouse Opening: September 30, 2009
Georgia: The Legacy Theatre Opening: January 21, 2011
Cast:
  • Sims Lamason (Betty Jean)
  • Christina Haak (Cindy Lou)
  • Melissa Vasquez-Cartwright (Missy)
  • Courtney Godwin (Suzy)

Productions[edit]

Minnesota: Plymouth Playhouse Opening: January 21, 2011
Cast:
  • Justine Carrol (Betty Jean)
  • Anne Reason (Cindy Lou)
  • Megan Kelly Hubbell (Missy)
  • Debi Kilde (Suzy)
  • Lisa Harman (Swing)
Vancouver, BC: Hey Look! It's a Co-op Opening: February 8, 2012
Cast:
  • Meghan Anderssen (Betty Jean)
  • Lalainia Lindbjerg (Cindy Lou)
  • Jennie Neumann (Missy)
  • Diana Kaarina (Suzy)
Flat Rock, North Carolina: Flat Rock Playhouse Opening: August 16, 2012
Cast:
  • Amy Toporek (Betty Jean)
  • Cassie Rea (Cindy Lou)
  • Beth Tarnow (Missy)
  • Lilly Tobin (Suzy)
Sackets Harbor, New York: Lake Ontario Playhouse Opening: November 9, 2012
Cast:
  • Molly Garbe (Betty Jean)
  • Ashley Marie (Cindy Lou)
  • Melanie Burg (Missy)
  • Caitlin Thurnauer (Suzy)
Sanibel, Florida : Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater Opening: February 22, 2013
Cast:
  • Elizabeth Urbanczyk (Betty Jean)
  • Amanda Downey (Cindy Lou)
  • Em Laudeman (Missy)
  • Anne Chamberlain (Suzy)
Stoneham Theatre : Opening: July 5th, 2013
Cast:
  • Brittany Rolfs (Betty Jean)
  • Lee Harrington (Cindy Lou)
  • Tess Primack (Missy)
  • Laura Graczyk (Suzy)
Sharon, Pennsylvania : James E. Winner Jr. Arts & Culture Center Opening: October 24, 2013
Cast:
  • Joanna Andrei (Betty Jean)
  • Jessica Valsi (Cindy Lou)
  • Brandy Rockage (Missy)
  • Brianne Samson (Suzy)

Sequels[edit]

After the success of Milwaukee Repertory's production of The Marvelous Wonderettes in 2001, the idea for a sequel was presented. In November 2003, Winter Wonderettes was presented at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The show included all four girls and set them at Harper's Hardware, the store that Betty Jean has worked in since high school. The girls have created a winter wonderland within the store for the 1968 Holiday Party. The evening includes some favorite Holiday songs including, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Jingle Bell Rock, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and Winter Wonderland.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2007 Los Angeles Ovation Awards
    • Franklin R. Levy Award for Musical Intimate Theatre (WINNER)
    • Ensemble Performance (nomination)
    • Direction of a Musical
      • Roger Bean (nomination)
  • 2007 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards
    • Ensemble Performance (WINNER)
    • Choreography
      • Janet Miller (WINNER)
  • 2009 Gypsy of the Year Awards
    • Top Fundraising Off-Broadway company (WINNER)
  • 2009 Drama League Awards
    • Distinguished Production of a Musical (nomination) [2]
  • 2009 Drama Desk Awards
    • Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
      • Farah Alvin (nomination)[3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]