The Marvelous Wonderettes
by Brian Coats, Education Programs Associate
NOTE: This Play Guide may contain mild spoilers about the story of the show. If you like to be completely surprised by the play, you may wish to wait until after seeing it to read the Play Guide.
January 3 – 28, 2018
The Marvelous Wonderettes - Suzy, Cindy Lou, Missy and Betty Jean - find themselves in the spotlight as they perform for their high school prom and, ten years later, their high school reunion.
What's the Story?
When the lead singer of the Springfield High School boys glee club is unexpectedly suspended from school, The Marvelous Wonderettes are chosen as a last-minute replacement for the 1958 senior prom entertainment. Suzy, Cindy Lou, Missy and Betty Jean sing hits of the 1950s while dealing with drama in their own personal relationships.
Ten years later, The Marvelous Wonderettes reunite to perform for their high school reunion. Their personal relationships are just as fraught as they were when they were younger. However, hit songs of the 1960s may just help them to rekindle their friendships and romantic relationships.
Girls United (in Song)
When looking back into the past, everyone has their own specific memories and opinions about decades long-gone. For some, the 1950s was a decade of conformity and the importance of the nuclear family. The rising number of television sets in American households led to an idea of the “mass market” and inspired everyone to want the same things and idealize the same trends. In opposition to that, the 1960s was seemingly a decade of protests and turbulence. Upset over race relations, war and sexism reached a breaking point during this decade, and Americans found themselves at the center of the fight for progress and change. Two decades, back-to-back, but each incredibly polarizing in their own ways, serve as the backdrop for Roger Bean’s The Marvelous Wonderettes, which uses a commonality of the two eras as its connective tissue: the united power of girl groups.
Music groups consisting of harmonizing women made their mark on American society during the 50s and 60s. Between The Cordettes (“Mr. Sandman,” “Lollipop”), The Shangri-Las (“Leader of the Pack”), Martha and the Vandellas (“Dancing in the Street”), and many more, women in music found a way to make their voices heard at a time when many other people found themselves without the ability or opportunity to share their opinions. These groups, along with individual female recording artists like Connie Francis (“Stupid Cupid”), Lesley Gore (“It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me”) and Aretha Franklin (“Respect”), presented the image of strong, united women who were speaking up and speaking out. Today, they are considered some of the leading proponents of feminism during this time in history.
Roger Bean’s The Marvelous Wonderettes allows audiences to look back on an era that sparked new ideas and changes to American society, and remember it as an infectiously bright and transformative time. These decades gave us some of the greatest classic songs in history, a lot of them by women and for women, and this play highlights those with the powerhouse vocals of four original characters, The Marvelous Wonderettes. There may be drama on stage in between all of the pop hits, but the music truly keeps these girls together. It’s so much fun, the audience will find it hard not to sing along.
Join The Rep as we kick off 2018 with a blast-to-the-past pop musical extravaganza that will have you dancing and singing in your seats!