Here's proof that rock 'n' roll will never die: "The Marvelous Wonderettes," Arizona Onstage Productions' latest offering.
The setup is this: It's the "Super Senior Prom" for the 1958 graduating class of Springfield High School. The boys' glee club, the Crooning Crabcakes, was supposed to entertain, but the lead singer, Billy, was suspended for smoking. So the award-winning (third place, state) song-leading team took the stage.
They dubbed themselves the Marvelous Wonderettes. There's some drama going on in this group: Suzy (deliciously giddy Janet Roby) is in love with Richie, who runs the lights and signals his love back with the dimming of the lights. Cindy Lou (Shanna Brock, who is icy and confident - the type every girl in high school hated) is blond, beautiful and has no issue stealing Betty Jean's boyfriend. Betty Jean (Liz Cracchiolo, who played betrayal and anger with comedic charm) has plenty of issues with Cindy Lou stealing her boyfriend. And Missy (Jacinda Rose Swinehart, who made warm and sensible seem so 1950s) is madly in love with Mr. Lee, the choir leader.
Through songs like "Stupid Cupid," "Teacher's Pet" and "Dream Lover," we get the full flavor of their ups and downs, loves and hates.
In the second act, they get together at their 10-year reunion. Songs such as "It's in His Kiss" and "It's My Party" reveal characters who have matured some but still have their ups and downs.
What the audience gets out of this is a quartet of women who weren't around when rock 'n' roll reigned, but who belted it out as though they had been.
Playwright Roger Bean's script just barely sketched the characters. But this production fleshed them out enough that we felt we knew, and definitely recognized, them.
That's thanks to the actors and to the director/choreographer, Samantha Cormier, who gave them moves that spoke of the characters and the time (OK, she did stick the swim and the shimmy into the '50s instead of the '60s, but that's quibbling).
There was some beautiful harmonizing, great belting, and tender love songs. The actors made the moments (and the memories) come alive.
This is theater lite, and we love it. Laughter and some good ol' rock 'n' roll is a grand way to spend an evening.
• What: "The Marvelous Wonderettes."
• Playwright: Roger Bean.
• Presented by: Arizona Onstage Productions.
• Director/choreographer: Samantha Cormier.
• Cast: Jacinda Rose Swinehart; Liz Cracchiolo; Janet Roby; and Shanna Brock.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 5.
• Where: Cabaret Theatre, Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.
• Tickets: $32.50, with discounts available.
• Reservations, information: www.arizonaonstage.org or 1-800-838-3006.
• Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.