"The Marvelous Wonderettes” turns out to be a delightful trip down memory lane. The four-gal musical has just opened at Hopewell’s Off-Broadstreet Theater for a five-week run. The plot is simplicity itself: A troupe of four high school girls who form a singing group to entertain at the school prom in 1958, and thus the first act includes more than 20 tunes from that era. Then, in act two, the group meets again at their 10th school reunion, and we get another large batch of tunes from that time period.
Nothing very complicated — some banter between the girls and a bit more with members of the unsuspecting audience, plus a terrific on-stage instrumental group to back them up. With some sensational choreography by Julie Thick to pick up the pace when things threaten to sag and four girls able to sing, dance, and slap quips like Ping-Pong balls, this show has it all.
It’s the creation of Roger Bean, who was asked to write a one-act skit for a cabaret at Milwaukee Rep. Through the years, it has morphed into a full-length show, playing at venues throughout the country and in the process spawning other creations — a winter special (think Christmas) and the like.
You will find you know a bunch of the songs — “Lollipop,” “Dream Lover,” “Stupid Cupid,” “Lipstick on your Collar” in the first act, and “You Don’t Own Me,” “I Only Want to be with You,” and “Leader of the Pack” in the second. The orchestra is under the strong direction of Steve Ryan (who leads from the piano) and includes Ron Hemmel on keyboard; Jim Geseke on guitar, and James Jarvie, a long-time OBT favorite, on drums.
And then there’s the most important part of the equation — the four girls, all Rider students (three juniors, one senior) and super talented. In the show their names are Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy, and Suzy, but you may be hearing their real names in the future: Jenna Atkinson, Roberta Curless, Bryan Owen, and Sarah Renee Caldwell.
I’m not going to name a favorite — I’ll let you fight that one on your own. Suffice it to say, they provide a wonderful two hours of pleasure, making it look really easy and as if they would like to continue for another few hours more.
The Marvelous Wonderettes, Off-Broadstreet Theater, 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell. Through September 18, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. $27 to $31.50 includes dessert. 609-466-2766 or www.off-broadstreet.com.