Their harmonies are tighter than the lid to an unopened jelly jar and sweeter than jam.
The four singers in “The Marvelous Wonderettes” have truly marvelous voices that soar from song-to-song and decade-to-decade.
The Over the Ledge Theatre’s production of the Rodger Bean musical spotlights a female quartet that performs at their 1958 senior prom and subsequent 1968 class reunion. The first act showcases ‘50s standards and the second features ‘60s pop hits. The formidable and fantastic foursome flawlessly flows from one favorite to another familiar tuneful phrase with a forceful finesse.
Carin McEvoy as Missy, Rachael Raymer as Cindy Lou, Nicole Martin as Suzy and Kate Snyder as Betty Jean play not-always-harmonious friends who happen to harmonize perfectly. They mesh smoothly through 16 bobby socks era and 15 swingin’ '60s tunes — not including a reprise of “Mr. Sandman” and the Springfield High Chipmunk Cheer.
Through song, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” tells the stories of each songstress. With distinctive voices, McEvoy, Raymer, Martin, and Snyder all provide excellent back-up and the ability to wail on their solos. They manage to sing with consistent power during almost the entire 50-minute first act and 45-minute second act. The lung power of such a team would surely make a good pearl diving squad.
Since “The Marvelous Wonderettes” has little dialogue or serious acting to accompany its songs, the show seems more of a concert than a play with a long list of ditties that are unabashedly generational and nostalgic. Those who grew up with such classics, “Lipstick on Your Collar,” Goodnight Sweetheart,” and “Stupid Cupid” or “Heatwave,” Respect,” and “It’s My Party” will especially enjoy the music.
That Kelly Stuible-Clark directs and choreographs the play makes sense because the action in “The Marvelous Wonderettes” is mostly the unison hand, arm and leg moves that accompanied quartets of the past. Stuible-Clark does a superb job of reproducing the period style and the cast does a splendid job of executing the extensive gestures.
Analogous, frilly prom dresses and go-go chic, A-line dresses designed by Amanda Macomber add a retro class. Four Elvis-style microphones are another refined, vintage touch. A Gibson Les Paul guitar and Gretch drums are delightfully appropriate.
The precision, four-piece band led by Seth Burk has an orchestral quality. The players are always in view at the back of Joseph Dickson’s colorfully lit stage. And unlike the singers, the band never takes solos during songs that sometimes have the musical breaks removed.
I would have liked some of the selections removed altogether as I found it somewhat tedious to sit through so many in a sweltering Grand Ledge Playhouse. Without much acting or conversation, I wondered why “The Marvelous Wonderettes” needed 34 songs to convey a rather simplistic and silly storyline.
That said, I was glad I braved the un-air-conditioned theatre/sauna on a particularly steamy night to hear some charming singers and skilled musicians who showed no distress with the heat. I’ll always remember enjoying hot hits of the ‘50s and ‘60s while in a room easily in the '90s.
“The Marvelous Wonderettes”
Thursday - Saturday July 12-14 8 p.m. Sunday July 15 2 p.m. Adults $12, Senior (55+) $10, Student $7 Tickets online at www.overtheledge.org