The Marvelous Wonderettes

Plymouth Playhouse

Paul Nixdorf

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The Marvelous Wonderettes
Plymouth Playhouse

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Jukebox musicals aren't about depth of character or compelling plots. Instead, they are a way to deliver a couple dozen or more familiar songs to the audience. The best are ones that don't try to shoehorn in so much plot that it becomes more about contorting the action to fit the themes and stories of the songs, instead of just enjoying the music. Thankfully, The Marvelous Wonderettes isn't one of those shows. Instead, it's almost all about the music of the 1950s and '60s, performed by a quartet of women. The new production at the Plymouth Playhouse sticks to the formula and is a real winner for those just looking for an evening's distraction. The action opens at a high school prom in 1958, and the four characters run through plenty of the hits of the day ("Lollypop," "Mr. Sandman") and let us into their lives. It's a pretty simple setup that works effectively. And just as I thought it needed a bit more teeth to be truly effective, the second act moved the action forward a decade. That not only provides access to more soulful tunes but allows the characters to grow without getting in the way of the music. The quartet—Justine Carroll, Megan Kelly Hubbell, Debi Kilde, and Anne Reason—bring out all the detail and delight of the songs' four-part harmonies, while crafting some depth to what could be one-note characters. The staging is breezy throughout (creator Roger Bean and his production team crafted the production), and enough care is taken with the characters to make this more than just high-end karaoke. $25-$38. 2705 Annapolis Lane N., Plymouth; 763.553.1600. Through July 24

 
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