Girl Power — Legacy Theatre brings Off-Broadway hit ‘The Marvelous Wonderettes’

From left are Christina Haak, Courtney Godwin, Sims Lamason and Melissa Cartwright. Photo/Special.

One of the most dynamic periods for women in recent history was between the late 1950s and the late 1960s and the musical, “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” which opens Friday at The Legacy Theatre in Tyrone, explores this era through the story of four friends. The first act is set at the senior prom of Springfield High School in 1958 where the Wonderettes, four girls with big hopes and dreams, perform. The second act takes place 10 years later at their 10 year reunion. Things have changed for the girls, now women, and there are more opportunities available to them now. “The Marvelous Wonderettes” was written by Roger Bean and features 26 musical numbers featuring classic pop songs like “Sandman,” Lollipop,” “Stupid Cupid,” “It’s My Party,” “Rescue Me” and more.

“This isn’t a musical revue,” director and choreographer Dawne Swearingen Churchville stresses. “The characters are complex, there’s a bit of an edge and the songs really advance the story.”

The cast of the show, all of whom have graced the stage at The Legacy Theatre before, are thrilled to be tackling such a fun and challenging show. One of the major challenges for the cast is to play the same characters at the ages of 18 and 28. Swearingen Churchville added that she was impressed at the nuance the cast has given their characters, instead of just playing them one dimensionally (i.e., the housewife, the jock, etc.).

Most of the cast has worked together on stage before, which helped the ensemble build an immediate familiarity and friendship, and because each character gets their own story and time to shine, each woman gets to feel like the lead character as well.

“It allows us to invest in the characters, but also be collaborative,” said Courtney Godwin, who plays Suzy. Godwin played Sharpay in Legacy’s productions of “High School Musical 1 and 2.” She is joined by Melissa Vazquez Cartwright (Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,”  “A Christmas Survival Guide”) as the over-achiever Missy, Sims Lamason (Lily St. Regis in “Annie”) as the class clown Betty Jean and Christina Haak (“My Way,” Star-to-Be in “Annie”) as the Prom Queen Cindy Lou.

“I am blessed to have four talented, gifted women, who are gifted vocally and in dance and connect with their characters honestly,” said Swearingen Churchville.

The cast worked their tails off to get the show up over a two week period. They learned four numbers a night, working close to four hours each evening, and worked extra days after inclement weather slowed down rehearsals last week. The cast is very supportive of each other, often serving as the biggest cheerleaders for their co-stars. Godwin’s favorite number in the show is Lamason’s “That’s When The Tears Start,” while Lamason loves the number “Needle in a Haystack.”

The show features fantastic costumes from Deb Swann and Stephen Ball, a beautiful set from Ryan McGettigan and stellar lights from Scott Glascock.

“I think the audience will be able to easily identify with the characters in this show,” said Vazquez Cartwright. “They will either see themselves or someone they know.” All of the cast members agree that the show is funny and fun to do. Audiences are sure to have a blast with this blast from the past.

“The Marvelous Wonderettes” runs Jan. 21-Feb.13, Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Reserve your tickets by calling 404-895-1473 or go online at www.thelegacytheatre.org

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