Take a trip back in time through the production of “The Marvelous Wonderettes” this weekend, courtesy of the Boze Lyric Theatre. The two-act jukebox musical, written and created by Roger Bean, will captivate audiences of all ages with 30 hits from the late 1950s and 1960s.
Experience the nostalgia of 1958 through four of AU’s finest female musical theater performers as they sing for their senior prom at Springfield High School. Then, in act two, join the girls as they meet again for their 10-year reunion in 1968.
“The Marvelous Wonderettes” marks the first jukebox musical production at AU under director David Coolidge. A jukebox musical is a popular genre of musicals that are organized around a catalog of songs.
“I think ‘The Marvelous Wonderettes’ is one of the really good examples of how a jukebox musical can be successful,” Coolidge says of the show.
In the limited space and runtime, Bean crafts an interesting and engaging storyline that is woven between classic songs and colorful characters.
Coolidge has worked directly with Bean in the past while an actor for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a different production. “Roger is an incredibly giving director and collaborator,” Coolidge says.
“Roger and I have kept in contact through the years,” Coolidge says, “and when it was time to do some sort of jukebox musical here and we had the right cast for it, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I’ve had my eye on ‘Wonderettes’ for a while, waiting for the right moment when we could do it, and this was the year to do that.”
The cast features sophomores Isabelle Yost as Missy Miller, Mackenzie Foulks as Betty Jean Reynolds, Juli Biagi as Suzy Simpson and junior Kayla Brandt as Cindy Lou Huffington.
Seating has been built on stage to create an interactive space that makes the show up close and personal. “It’s an extremely intimate space,” Coolidge says.
Byrum Hall traditionally seats around 450 people, but “Wonderettes” will have more limited seating with a cap of 99 audience members each show.
“We’ve created the same kind of atmosphere that this piece originated in,” Coolidge says, referring to the Stackner Cabaret in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
The preparations and rehearsals for this musical have been demanding; the four actresses remain on stage, performing tight four-part harmonies and extended choreography the entire run-time.
Kayla Brandt, a junior musical theater major, says that despite the difficulties, the process has been rewarding.
“Just going through this experience together with three other girls that are going through the exact same thing has made our bond stronger,” Brandt says. “I think that will probably show up in the production because we’re supposed to be best friends in the show, but we are also best friends in real life.”
“I think if you’re going to see one show this year, I would go see this one,” Brandt says.
“The Marvelous Wonderettes” premiers Thursday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m in Byrum Hall. Showtimes for Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14 will be at 7:30 p.m. The musical closes with a matinee show on Sunday, April 15 at 2:30 p.m.
AU students, faculty and staff are provided two free tickets. Tickets for adults can be purchased for $12, and seniors and members of the military receive a discount for $10. Tickets for children and students from other schools are priced at $5.
Further information about Boze Lyric Theatre performances and bookings can be found by contacting the Byrum Hall box office at (765) 641-4140.