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The Marvelous Wonderettes 

Thursday, Jan 10 2008
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In their cotton-candy chiffon dresses, songbirds Missy, Suzy, Betty Jean and Cindy Lou (Kim Huber, Bets Malone, Julie Dixon Jackson and Kirsten Chandler) are pleased as punch to entertain their senior-class prom. As it’s 1958, tonight’s track list is pure bubblegum pop, soured up by cat fights over stolen songs and stolen boyfriends. Like all good teenybop groups, the Wonderettes break down into archetypes: awkward, bubbly, tomboy and diva. Playwright-director Roger Bean, however, is only half-successful in manufacturing drama and character development from these personality clashes and a looming prom-queen vote. The real focus here is the songs, and the audience happily mouths along to the crooners, though the energy flags when each of the girls literally announces her romantic plot arc and then illustrates it with three consecutive songs from “Dream Lover” to “That’s When the Tears Start.” Under Bean’s hand, the ladies are fine comedians and even finer singers, and the show gets a punch of energy in Act 2, when the Wonderettes — older, wiser and less innocent — channel their inner Arethas at their 10-year reunion, decked in juicier colors while belting ballads of the late 1960s. Still, although charming and impeccably performed, the nostalgia teeters dangerously close to a sugar overload, right down to the Pixy Stix and Ding Dongs served during intermission. (Amy Nicholson) Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 31. Continues through April 27, 2008

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Reach the writer at anicholson@laweekly.com

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