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“The Marvelous Wonderettes” by Roger Bean Is a Sweet and Sassy Tribute to 1950s and ’60s Girl Groups

"The Marvelous Wonderettes" stars (from left) Cassandra Zangas Vallery, Annie Gane, Sherri Lee Allen, and Meredith Jones (photo by Lauren Kennedy)

"The Marvelous Wonderettes" stars (from left) Cassandra Zangas Vallery, Annie Gane, Sherri Lee Allen, and Meredith Jones (photo by Lauren Kennedy)

For us Baby Boomers, Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy’s toe-tapping presentation of The Marvelous Wonderettes is a sweet and sassy tribute to the great girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s who cranked out a string of Top 40 hits that provided the soundtrack for much of our childhood and teenage years. But Generations X and Y will also get a kick out of Roger Bean’s frisky musical revue. Act I is set at the 1958 Super Senior Prom, where the Chipmunks of Springfield High make like Tom and Jerry; and Act II chronicles a 1968 ten-year reunion concert starring the same Marvelous Wonderettes who headlined the 1958 prom.

Hot Summer Nights guest director and choreographer Tito Hernandez and musical director Julie Bradley, have put plenty of snap, crackle, and pop into their buoyant musical staging of The Marvelous Wonderettes, which features perky performances by Cassandra Zangas Vallery as Cindy Lou, Meredith Jones as her archrival Betty Jean, Annie Gane as Suzy, and Sherri Lee Allen as Missy.

Costume designer LeGrande Smith lives up to her name with her simply grand recreations of poufy 1958-vintage prom dresses in Act I and brazen late-1960s mini-skirt outfits in Act II. Wig designer Patti DelSordo vividly recreates the 1950s and 1960s hairstyles that top off these eye-catching ensembles; and the Hot Summer Nights backup band of Julie Bradley and Andre Cerullo on keyboards, guitarist Drew Lile, and percussionist John Hanks provides high-octane accompaniment.

Highlights of the show include four-part harmony on “Mr. Sandman”; “Lipstick on Your Collar”; and the show’s “Lollipop”/”Sugartime,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream”/”Dream Lover,” and “Sincerely”/”Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight” medleys.

Cassandra Vallery makes the most of her moments in the spotlight with stirring solos on “Allegheny Moon,” “Lucky Lips,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Leader of the Pack,” and “Maybe.” Meredith Jones plucks at the audience’s heartstrings with “I Only Want to Be With You,” “That’s When the Tears Start,” and “It’s My Party (and I’ll Cry if I Want to).”

Sherri Allen shows she’s ready for Prime Time with vibrant versions of “Secret Love” “It’s in His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song),” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “You Don’t Own Me,” and “With This Ring”; and Annie Gane delights Hot Summer Nights patrons with spunky solos on “Stupid Cupid,” “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” “Maybe I Know,” “Rescue Me,” and “Respect.”

All in all, The Marvelous Wonderettes is an unforgettable trip down Memory Lane. Book your ticket today.

Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy presents THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES at 8 p.m. July 1 and 2, 3 p.m. July 3, 8 p.m. July 6-9, and 3 p.m. July 10 in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theater in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $22 ($18 students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 866/811-4111 or https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/27655.

SHOW: http://www.hotsummernightsatthekennedy.org/2011season/MarvelousWonderettes.asp.

SERIES: http://www.hotsummernightsatthekennedy.org/2011season.asp.

PRESENTER: http://www.hotsummernightsatthekennedy.org/.

VENUE: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/venue/kennedy-theatre.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/directions.

PARKING: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/parking.

OTHER LINKS:

The Musical: http://www.marvelouswonderettes.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marvelous_Wonderettes (Wikipedia), and http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database).

The Playwright: http://rogerbean.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Bean (Wikipedia), and http://www.lortel.org/LLA_archive/index.cfm?search_by=people&first=Roger&middle=&last=Bean (Internet Off-Broadway Database).

Tito Hernandez: http://www.nctheatre.com/conservatory/instructors.html (North Carolina Theatre).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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