Monday, December 22, 2014

Heritage Presents Jukebox of Hits with Musical Comedy ‘The Marvelous Wonderettes’

Heritage Theatre Festival is turning back the clock and turning up the music with the off-Broadway musical comedy “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”

Opening July 23 in the new Ruth Caplin Theatre, the show offers a fun-filled evening during which audience members can relive their own prom experiences – including voting for the Springfield High School prom queen.

Created by Roger Bean, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” runs from July 23-27, 30, 31 and Aug. 1-3. Performances begin at 7:45 p.m., and there will be a 2 p.m. matinee on July 27.

“The Marvelous Wonderettes” begins at Springfield High School’s 1958 prom, following four young sassy women as they sing their way through some of the biggest hits of the era. Years later, at their 10-year reunion, the Wonderettes sing a whole new batch of their favorite tunes.

A formidable foursome of girls with big hopes, big dreams and big hair, the Wonderettes share their lives and loves through lines and lyrics, performing such classic ’50s and ’60s pop hits as the Chordettes’ “Lollipop” and “Mr. Sandman,” Connie Francis’ “Lipstick on Your Collar,” the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” and Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party.”

The spirit of the musical’s girl group sound comes from a quartet of remarkable vocalists: Carly Amburn, Emily Via, Ali Stoner – a 2012 graduate of the University of Virginia College of Arts & Sciences in drama and arts administration – and Emelie Faith Thompson, fresh from starring as Annie Oakley in Heritage’s production of  “Annie Get Your Gun” earlier this summer.

Directed and choreographed by Philadelphia-based Heritage veteran Renee Dobson, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” presents a real walk down memory lane and harkens back to a very different time in America.

“The musical comedy takes us through the ’50s and ’60s via familiar pop songs,” Dobson said. “For people who’ve lived through that era, it’s a fun and nostalgic trip. For younger people, it’s an evening full of songs they have heard, or heard of, sung by these incredibly talented girls.

“The musical is from a much more innocent period and optimistic time in our country, and in that way, it provides a sort of escape from reality.”

“The Marvelous Wonderettes” also invites the audience to participate in the performance.

“The performance includes voting for the Springfield High prom queen,” Dobson said. “When you come into the theater, you’re handed a ballot with your program. You can also vote for your favorite Wonderette.”

The show further draws in its audience by offering a chance to be a part of the proceedings. A limited number of seats are available for each performance at “prom tables” that are built into the set. These can be requested when purchasing tickets.

Tickets for the show are $35 ($30 for seniors and U.Va. faculty, staff and alumni, and $15 for students), and are available at the U.Va. Arts Box Office (located in the lobby of the U.Va. Department of Drama Building), online at www.uvahtf.org or by phone at 434-924-3376.

Free parking for all Heritage Theatre Festival performances is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, located alongside the theaters.

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