In what can only be described as "mean girls on crack", The Marvelous Wonderettes are a camp and ever so OTT quartet of prom queen wannabees all vying for the coveted crown. Blending elements from much loved musicals Grease and Hairspray, the 1950's set performance features a plethora of pop hits from the era including but not limited to "Mr Sandman", "Stupid Cupid" and "Teacher's Pet".
Each Wonderette is simply fabulous in her own right, but the cookie cutter stereotypes are a theme seen too many times before and take away any deeper layers each character might possess. Vocally each performer brings something unique to the stage, Cindy Lou (played by Angela Scundi) has a powerful musical theatre belt, often overpowering the small setting at fortyfivedownstairs. Co-star Missy (Karla Hillam) is another who dominates with her soaring soprano, particularly during a stunning rendition of "Secret love".
What the performance has in talent and star power, it unfortunately lacks in synchronization. Each Wonderettes' obvious talent and show stopping vocals hinder a greater cohesion to the piece. Only Suzy (played by Erin Herrmann) seems to strike the balance and play to the idea that The Marvelous Wonderettes are a group rather than four individuals trying to outshine each other.
Clumsy footing and awkward blocking are added for comedic effect but serve more to irritate than engage with the audience, and despite the tomboy character of Betty Jean (Lauren Midgley) best comedic efforts she comes across as bogan rather than butch.
It is not until Act 2, when the fabulous fifties have given way to the swinging sixty's when things really start to heat up and The Wonderettes really come into their own. Getting the band back together for their ten year high school reunion, The Wonderettes are back to their brightly coloured best, complete with beehive hairstyles and Supremes style harmonies.
With the slight alteration of a few technical hitches and an evening out of sound levels, The Marvelous Wonderettes are a joy to behold. The show's rocking soundtrack leaves the audience defenseless to its infectious enthusiasm. The Wonderettes are so vibrant you won't be able to resist the urge to dance and they are sure to leave a smile on your face as you boogie on home.
The Marvelous Wonderettes
Directed by Noah Sharwood
Venue: fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates: 22 August – 1 September, 2012
Bookings: 03 9662 9966