From left, Amie Shapiro, Kristin Schmitz, Adrienne Walters and Ashley Rae Little star in 'The Marvelous Wonderettes' presented by Broadway By The Bay.
Being strong, individual characters on stage while fostering what appears to be a natural friendship would be a challenge for any actor.
For the four women taking on "The Marvelous Wonderettes,” the challenge seems to come with lots of laughter and support. The four-woman musical is the next show offered by Broadway By the Bay. Starting July 12, be transported back to high school in the '50s and '60s with jukebox hits like "Mr. Sandman,” "Lollipop,” "It's My Party,” and "Leader of the Pack.” Songs carry the story of four girls at a high school prom who then return 10 years later for the class reunion. But don't be fooled by the upbeat tunes, the women said. This isn't just an homage to pop music from past decades; there's substance to the story as well.
Making the performance extra special is that each of the leading ladies is making her debut with Broadway by the Bay.
Kristin Schmitz, who plays Betty Jean, recalled thinking she'd be the odd woman out, coming into a cast that has most likely worked together. Amie Shapiro of Redwood City, who plays Missy, was equally surprised. Each girl thought getting cast was a bit of a long shot. But they enjoy singing, so they went for it. Adrienne Walters from Palo Alto, who plays Suzy, particularly enjoys singing harmonies — which this show is full of. And, despite not knowing each other at the start, the girls have quickly become close and started recognizing the many connections they have, explained Ashley Rae Little who plays Cindy Lou.
Sit with the ladies and it's like hanging out with a group of friends. There's laughter, finishing of each other's sentences and constant support of the other's skills.
Shapiro, for example, noted being on stage and thinking Schmitz really did forget her line. Don't worry, it was all part of the show. Others agreed and the girls laughed, but the point was a good one. After a short but intensive period working together to prepare for the show, the ladies have come to trust one another. If someone needs help on stage, another girl steps up.
"It's like four one-woman shows going on simultaneously,” said Schmitz.
Each actress has her own obstacle to overcome. For Schmitz, for example, it's aging 10 years for the second act. Walters, on the other hand, loves the second act as does Shapiro. Shapiro, who is 26, said she feels more comfortable in the role of a 20 something woman. Each character reaches her stride in life at a different point in the show, said Little, making it engaging for those watching but a different experience for each involved.
The women who all perform for the love of it are excited to showcase the characters they have been working on perfecting.
"It has a heart,” Shapiro said of the show. "It's not just fluff. But it has something in it for everyone.”
"The Marvelous Wonderettes” runs Thursday, July 12 through Sunday, July 29. Shows are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City. Tickets range from $22 to $48. To buy tickets visit www.broadwaybythebay.org, call 579-5565 ext. 1 or visit the theater box office up to two hours before showtime.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.