11th Hour Theatre Company concludes its season with an exhilarating production of Roger Bean’s The Marvelous Wonderettes. Unlike conventional musicals that feature an original score, Marvelous is part of the growing trend of “jukebox musicals” that rely entirely on previously recorded songs. Because of that, they are far less expensive to produce than shows that require a live orchestra.
Focusing on four female friends who form a singing group that performs at their high school prom and then 10 years later at the class reunion, the show is remarkably simple in its construction. Act I takes place in 1958 and Act II in 1968, but Bean isn’t interested in examining any of the societal changes that occurred during that tumultuous 10-year period. Instead, he puts all the focus on the characters and the music that serves as the soundtrack for their lives.
Comprised of 24 of the catchiest female pop songs from the 1950 and ’60s, director Megan Nicole O’Brien’s outstanding cast (Kat Borrelli, Laura Catlaw, Janet Rowley and the spellbinding Colleen Hazlett) not only sings extraordinarily well but has charisma to burn. Highlights include the cast’s bouncy, pitch-perfect performance of the summertime classic “(Love is Like A) Heatwave”; a sensational version of Bobby Darin’s ode to teen romantic fantasies “Dream Lover”; and the show’s concluding number “You Don’t Own Me,” which the foursome transform into an anthem of feminine passion and defiance.
Through June 24. $30. Skybox at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street. 267.987.9865. 11thhourtheatrecompany.org