Using classic songs from the 1950s and ’60s in telling its story, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” opened this weekend at the Glendale Centre Theatre featuring a female quartet, singing tight four-part harmony, in costumes and hairstyles from those bygone decades.
The production features about 35 songs, including “Sandman,” “Lollipop,” “Respect” and “Rescue Me,” but director and choreographer Robert Marra said the show isn’t a straight-on musical revue. Each character is unique, has her own storyline and her own connection to songs in the show.
“At its core, it’s a jukebox musical,” Marra said. “But Roger Bean, who wrote it and created it, spent so much time tying together all of these songs and the characters they maintain within the songs, so that the storylines make sense. So, it’s really not a revue.”
Bean’s work apparently paid off. “All of the character arcs are completely justified,” Marra said.
For “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” the Glendale Centre Theatre has broken from its traditional theater-in-the-round staging and created a thrust-proscenium setting, taking out some patron seats to make room.
Marra said as part of the gymnasium backdrop for the show, the four performers use not only the newly constructed stage but also the “gym floor” in the center of the theater during their numbers.
Local theater enthusiasts may remember “The Marvelous Wonderettes” had an extended run at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood some years ago. It was directed by Bean, who is an area resident.
It’s also been produced at the Laguna Playhouse, Milwaukee Repertory Theater and in New York City.
“It played Off-Broadway for a long time,” said Marra, who has theatrical experience in New York City, where he was born and raised.
Marra, who was last seen at the Glendale Centre Theatre in the title role in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” earlier this season, has been featured in several starring roles at the local venue, including productions of “Brigadoon” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
This past production of “Joseph” was the fourth time he’s played the main role, also having performed it in the original production at Glendale Centre Theatre and three productions there in between.