WISCONSIN DELLS — The Palace Theater’s latest musical is nearly an all-woman show, on the stage and behind the scenes.
On Friday evening, the Wisconsin Dells theater opened its production of “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” a comedic retrospective on music from the 1950s and ’60s. It stars four young women who spend the first act at their high school prom, and the second act at their 10-year class reunion. Along the way, “Lollipop” gives way to “Respect.”
Erin Sullivan, who directed Palace Theater’s production of “Grease” last year, was excited to bring back cast and crew members to help with “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” onstage and backstage. Nearly all are female.
“On such an intimate show, it was so wonderful to work with a great group I had experience with,” Sullivan said. “Also it’s extremely empowering: It’s very rare in this industry to have an almost all-female creative team. I’m extremely proud of this show.”
The musical features 30 classic oldies, tied together with a story about four ladies finding their way through young adulthood. The first act is built around ’50s standards like “Dream Lover” and “Mr. Sandman.” In the second act, the prom dresses are replaced by go-go boots as the cast performs “Leader of the Pack” and “Son of a Preacher Man.”
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“Roger Bean did such a wonderful job with this script, tying in a sweet plot line that weaves some of the most famous songs of the 1950s and ’60s into a journey about friendship, love and change,” Sullivan said.
Written for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater in 1999, the musical is now being performed off-Broadway in New York. The local production was cast in New York City.
“The challenge behind this show is that these girls are not a caricature. They are real girls,” Sullivan said. “It’s a show you can see over and over. And with the music, I guarantee, it won’t be just a night of wonderful entertainment, but a trip down memory lane.”
The audience gets to be part of the show, voting for the prom queen at the end of the first act and getting roped into the action. “I wanted to create an experience for the audience that they aren’t just watching, but they are included,” Sullivan said. “It brings the production to a whole new level of enjoyment.”