'The Marvelous Wonderettes' Is All About The Music

By: Ellen Chahey

Topics: Local Music

Heidi Cloutier; Isabel Archer; Julia Wiseman; Madison Mayer and “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” HANNAH MCLAUGHLIN PHOTO

What a difference 10 years can make! And yet, does 10 years make that much difference? And does such existential dither mean anything? Here’s a fun show that just asks you to enjoy the music and the talent and, if you lived in the 1950s and ‘60s, the memories (or if you didn’t, you’ll learn a little bit about what your grandparents loved.)

“The Marvelous Wonderettes,” now playing at the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre, explores how life changed for the fictional Springfield High School class of 1958 (Act I) through its tenth-year reunion in 1968 (Act II). Visually and musically, it’s a stunner, from the 1950s taffetas and heels to the l960s polyesters and white go-go boots by Frances Covais Lautenberger; and from the prom-era hits such as “Mr. Sandman,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Stupid Cupid,” “Lipstick on Your Collar,” “Born Too Late,” and “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and the groovy reunion stuff like “Heat Wave,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “You Don’t Own Me,” “It’s My Party,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “I Only Want to be with You,” “Leader of the Pack,” and “Respect.”

Don’t show up for this show, and you’ll miss out on some great entertainment.

Isabelle Archer, Heidi Cloutier, Madison Mayer, and Julia Wiseman blend well as a group and also take star turns by themselves. They have the wonderful backing of Bob Wilder on keyboards, Evan Eldredge on drums, and Justin Torrellas on reeds. Wilder also directed the play. Suzette Hutchinson, who has tons of impressive dance credentials, choreographed the showy presentations that the Wonderettes make both for their prom and their reunion, and she’s also the stage manager. “It’s light and summery,” she said on her way to calling “10 minutes” to curtain time to the cast.

The four women and three men have the stage for the whole performance, and if any one is tired, they never let it show.

Archer writes in her bio that with her role as Betty Jean she now shares the name Betty with her great-grandmother. Cloutier thanks her family and “amazing coworkers and patients who put up with this crazy, singing, and dancing nurse, mother, wife, and friend,” Mayer writes that she is “thrilled to wear her cat-eye glasses once again!” And Wiseman, a recent graduate of Barnstable High School, will be attending American University in Washington, D.C. in the fall.

It’s pretty much about the music, although the prom scene includes of course some teen angst and the reunion some of the same among young adults. All of it stays lighthearted, a midsummer night’s dream of crushes and first real loves, and a ring, and a baby on the way, but always to music that many will remember and many others may love to hear for the first time.

One exception: the song many of us know as “You Don’t Own Me” gets a fresh take when three of the women admonish a man by singing “You Don’t Own Her.” It’s the most serious statement the play makes, and in our era—50 years later!—when men, including many of them in power, still boast about grabbing women, it feels like an anthem.


“The Marvelous Wonderettes”
At the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre
Divison Street, West Harwich
Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30 through Aug. 18.
Information and reservations: 508-432-2002, capecodtheatrecompany.org