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June 27, 2010

'50-'60s revue just plain fun

• RATING: ***½
• WHERE: Sierra Repertory Theatre, 13891 Mono Way, Sonora
• WHEN: 2 p.m. Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Thursdays, 7 p.m. Fridays (with wine tastings), 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Through Aug. 15.
• RUNNING TIME: 2 hours, 15 minutes, including intermission
• TICKETS: $18-$28
• INFORMATION: 532-3120 or

SONORA -- Modesto's Graffiti Summer celebration is over for the year, but there's still plenty of doo-wop fun to be had in Sonora.

Sierra Repertory Theatre has picked up the nostalgia torch with its fun new show "The Marvelous Wonderettes." The entertaining and funny all-female musical revue is packed with some of the most danceable hits of the 1950s and 1960s, including "Lollipop," "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me," "Mr. Sandman," "The Leader of the Pack" and "It's My Party."

As directed and choreographed by Scott Viets, this show lifts your spirits, makes you forget all about your troubles and has you singing along with the cast.

The musical features just four characters who we meet first at their 1958 "super senior prom" and again 10 years later at their high school reunion.

Innocent Suzy (Katie De- Shan), smart Missy (Lulu Lloyd), flirtatious Cindy Lou (Natalie Storrs) and feisty Betty Jean (Mindy Stover) are song leaders who perform synchronized dance moves and raise school spirit for the Chipmunks, their school mascot. A highlight is watching them do their original Chipmunk cheer.

They are not the most serious bunch and usually have trouble staying focused. Much of the comedy comes from watching them squabble with each other, compete for attention from boys and try to remember their synchronized dance steps.

First performed in Milwaukee in 1999, the show became a hit in Los Angeles in 2006 and has been running off-Broadway since 2008. Creator Roger Bean was inspired by his mother's stories about being a high school song leader.

All four actresses are wonderful, but the cast standout is Lloyd, who has the biggest voice and outsings everyone. On opening night Friday, the audience went wild for her renditions of "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Mr. Lee" among others.

The women shine brightest in the first act when they concentrate on the innocent 1950s numbers. They have a little harder time with the rawer 1960s soulful songs, but they still manage to make them pop.

The onstage four-person band, led by musical director Mark Seiver, is an added treat. It's a nice change from the recorded accompaniment Sierra Rep usually uses.

Randall A. Enlow's set makes the audience feel as if they are inside a high school gym decorated for the prom. It includes lockers, trophy cases and plenty of streamers.

The audience is invited to join in the fun as soon as they enter the lobby. They can get "prom pictures" taken and are invited to vote for their favorite performer to become prom queen. One man is invited on stage each night to be serenaded by the women.

Watching the show is like stepping into a time machine and escaping to a simpler, more carefree era.

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