Quote of the Day: People who grew up in a certain era are drawn to those songs. Amy Borash, director of The Marvelous Wonderettes, playing on the South lawn of Central Lakes College (CLC) campus, as part of the Brainerd Community Theater (BCT) outdoor (because of Covid) productions. I couldn’t have been happier for these events! 

Two weeks ago, Brainerd area theater fans filled the South lawn of CLC campus for Sh-Boom! Life Could Be a Dream. It was a smash hit. This week, it’s companion piece, The Marvelous Wonderettes, will fill your hearts with joy. This show, created by Roger Bean, ran for over 1200 performances Off-Broadway and has won awards for Best Musical for its record-breaking Los Angeles run. 

At first I thought The Marvelous Wonderettes was simply a vehicle for performing the great retro-pop songs of the 50’s and 60’s. Act One is all about teen girls, Prom, being Prom queen, petty arguments, and jealousies among the girl group quartet (Rachael Kline, Nicole Rothleutner, Macy Judd, and Emily-Rose Severson). In Act Two, I got a different perspective. The girls come back for their 10 year reunion and life has changed. They’ve loved and lost. They’ve already experienced heartache, lost sight of their dreams, and even lost touch with each other. Through the songs and their stories, they realize that in the end, they have each other. The Marvelous Wonderettes is about female friendship, and I liked it. 

Amy Borash, director and choreographer for The Marvelous Wonderettes, BCT on the lawn at CLC. Summer theater 2020. Photo by Mary Aalgaard

Having worked with Amy Borash the past two summers when she directed two shows that I was in – The Church Basement Ladies and Mamma Mia! (Amy directed, choreographed, and starred in Mamma Mia!) I could see her handiwork in this production. Not just in her amazing choreography and staging, or in how she builds a show. More in how she brings out the heart of a show. The Marvelous Wonderettes doesn’t have much of a plot. It’s really about the relationship between the young women, and Amy brings that out in a beautiful way. 

The Marvelous Wonderettes, singing “Lollipop” BCT on the lawn at CLC. Summer theater 2020. Photo by Mary Aalgaard

This is an ensemble show. Each member of the quartet gets her chance to shine in solo numbers as well as harmonize and sing back-up for her friends. The opening numbers grabbed us right away, bringing on the nostalgia of the 1950’s. I named my Pandora station “Lollipop Radio,” so I was all in with the music. It’s a concert style show, so most people come for the songs they grew up hearing, dancing and falling in love to. These songs have been around so long, and come back around in film and retro-radio so often, that many people feel like they’re part of the soundtrack to their lives. 

Jesse Brutcher makes a guest appearance as Mr. Lee with The Marvelous Wonderettes, singing “Mr. Lee” BCT on the lawn at CLC. Summer theater 2020. Photo by Mary Aalgaard

The second act, 10 years later, brings us to the 1960’s, go-go boots, flashy colors, and the Feminist movement. I felt like the performers came alive in Act Two. They could put their sass on and belt out “You Don’t Own Me,” (one of my all time favorite songs) and Aretha Frankin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T!” Their choreography and energy during that song was worth the price of admission! (Which, BTW, is only $10 for adults $5 for kids 18 and under.)

Rachael Kline and The Marvelous Wonderettes, singing “Leader of the Pack” BCT on the lawn at CLC. Summer theater 2020. Photo by Mary Aalgaard

Rachael Kline soloed on “Leader of the Pack,” an emotional song about a tragedy that has always packed a punch. They end with “Thank You and Goodnight,” and we all got to our feet and thanked them back for providing such a lovely distraction during The Time of Covid-19. I’m all for continuing outdoor performances every summer, whether we’re in a global pandemic or not!

Assistant Director Travis Chaput, Director Amy Borash, and Stage Manager/Dance Captain Alex Erickson The Marvelous Wonderettes BCT on the lawn at CLC. Summer theater 2020. Photo by Mary Aalgaard

Creative Team for The Marvelous Wonderettes: Assistant Director Travis Chaput, Vocal Director Jacob Hanson, Production Manager/Dance Captain Alex Erickson, Set Designer George Marsolek, Costumes by Sharon Hartley (they were adorable), and Curtis Jendro on sound/lighting. Producer is Patrick Spradlin and the CLC Theater Department. Thanks for all you do to build community in the Brainerd lakes area!

You can see The Marvelous Wonderettes on the lawn at CLC the week of August 3-6, 6:30 show time. Arrive early! People are quick to grab their favorite spot. Please keep a social distance from other patrons, and bring your own bug spray, chair, and snacks (no alcohol, please). Tickets are only $10 for adults, $5 for children, cash or check only at the door, no advance sales. Please visit the CLC Performing Arts website for more info. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What fun outdoor activities are you enjoying this year?