WINTER WONDERETTES – Written by Roger Bean; Musical Arrangement by Roger Bean and Brian Baker; Directed by Robert Wells. Produced by Town Hall Arts Center (2450 West Main, Littleton) through December 26. Tickets available at 303-794-ARTS or townhallartscenter.org.
If the Wonderettes took up tartan, they would be the Plaids. If the Plaids wore pastel dresses, they would be the Wonderettes. But they don’t, so four very talented young women get to fill the pastel dresses and sing the holiday songs. The “plot”- what there is of it – is only an excuse to get the ladies out on the stage where they can explore the Christmas songbook.
The ladies are all employees of the local hardware store and are the entertainment for the office Christmas party. Halfway through they discover that their Christmas bonusses are all slightly pink. Excitement and anticipation of a year-end reward for hard work turns into disappointment and anger. The show almost comes to a screeching halt. But the girls decide to “go on with the show” like the real troopers they are.
Most of the music is delightful versions of songs that invite you to sing along. “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and, of course, their signature song – “Winter Wonderland.” But there are a few little known holiday songs sprinkled throughout the libretto that surprise and delight. “We Want to See Santa Do the Mambo” and “Suzy Snowflake,” for instance. But the song that stopped the show for a quiet moment and brought tears to everyone’s eyes as we each remembered the childhood wonder of the holiday season was “All the Christmas Cliches” sung by Abby McInerney who totally nailed it. It tells the journey of a person who never made much of Christmas. But now that she is older, she wants the whole holiday scene. The tree – the cookies for Santa – the kids to tuck in tight – the reindeer on the front lawn – the whole Christmas schtick.
All those Christmas clichés
Give’em to me
Just in time for a holiday
Hit me with those out of the ballpark
Happy and Hallmark Christmas clichés.
The girls – Rebekah Ortiz, Cara Lippitt, Caitlin Hilzer and Abby – all got great solo numbers and quartets with authentic 60’s girl group dance steps, compliments of Kelly Kates, the choreographer. Their “in the style of” pastel dresses were designed by Costumer Linda Morken. The hardware store was designed by Douglas Clarke, built by Mike Haas and his crew, and dressed by Becky Toma. And, of course, the music was supported by Donna Debreceni and her long time cohorts, Scott Smith on bass and Larry Ziehl on percussion.
Yes, it’s a light weight script and uses a lot of familiar music. But when it’s done this well, you don’t seem to mind. You just sit back in your seat and let the Christmas spirit seep into your pores. Sometimes you just need that.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!