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Toe-tappin’, gut-bustin’ fun with ‘The Marvelous Wonderettes’ at TBT

Courtesy Photo "The Marvelous Wonderttes: Caps & Gowns" is showing tonight through Sunday and again next weekend at Thunder Bay Theatre. Pictured, from left to right, are Sierra Glosson, Desi Rodriguez, Emily Ahrens, and Erica Werner.

ALPENA – It’s 1958, and the girls are graduating in “The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps & Gowns” at Thunder Bay Theatre.

Playgoers won’t stop singing and laughing for this entire two-hour treat, which many retirees will particularly enjoy as a joyride back into the good old days.

Children and adults of all ages will love the brightly colored costumes and a wide variety of familiar tunes from the 1950s and 60s, including “Rock Around the Clock,” “Rockin’ Robin,” “At the Hop,” “Personality,” “Sealed with a Kiss,” “Dancing in the Street,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Just One Look,” “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” “Baby, I Love You,” “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” and many more.

The upbeat musical is the sequel to “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” which was produced at Thunder Bay Theatre three years ago. Written and created by Roger Bean, it follows the lives of four seniors graduating from Springfield High School in the first act, then we come back 10 years later in 1968 to see where their lives have taken them.

The cast includes Erica Werner as Betty Jean, Sierra Glosson as Cindy Lou, Desi Rodriguez as Missy, and Emily Ahrens as Suzy. But they’re not the only ones who take the stage, as Chester the Chipmunk (Molly Stricker) makes a gleeful appearance or two, and several handsome fellows from the audience are randomly selected to participate in the show!

What a hoot! Two of the characters in the play, Coach Warner and teacher Mr. Lee were played at a Sunday show by unassuming but good-humored men in the audience who had no idea they would be put on the spot.

“He’s our biggest athletic supporter,” one of the girls announced of Coach Warner.

The four actresses bring their characters to life in such a way that one feels transported back to high school. That place where good looks trump kind words for some (Cindy Lou), where academics matter almost as much as friendship (Missy), where sports are just as much for girls as boys (Betty Jean), and where being sweet and cute doesn’t quite make up for being a few crayons short of a box (Suzy).

The foursome clearly establishes their roles – it’s a power struggle between Cindy Lou (Glosson) and Betty Jean (Werner), who are constantly at each other’s throats, while Missy mediates, trying to get them to realize how much they actually appreciate each other. Ditzy Suzy tries to help, but she’s a tad preoccupied with her chewing gum, which she places goofily on her microphone before singing any songs, then puts it back in her mouth repeatedly throughout the show.

Cindy Lou shouts at Betty Jean: “My mother raised me to be pretty, not nice!”

Glosson exemplifies the pretty “mean girl,” with her slim figure, porcelain skin and sleek brown bob.

At one point when the two are battling, Suzy chimes in, “Don’t throw glass houses!”

Appropriately donned with a blonde pile of hair, Ahrens’ timing, tone and facial expressions add the perfect comedic touch.

On the other hand, Rodriguez as the smart Missy gets an A+ performance, as well.

And Werner as Betty Jean has that rebel attitude that adds another realistic element to this inseparable foursome who, no matter what, will be there for each other through thick and thin.

Their voices are a chorus of angels together, and a variety of songbirds when going alone.

Ahrens and Rodriguez are returning from the 2019 summer core company, and Werner is back after performing around the country. She was a year-round core company member in 2017. Glosson is new at TBT.

Bring both your grandma and your nephew to this family-friendly blast of upbeat, colorful fun!

Directed and choreographed by Lucas Moquin, this musical’s crew includes Jacob Kerzner as music director, Tabitha Camp as production stage manager, Eileen Thoma as costume designer, Cassie Lentz as scenic designer, Chris Riley as lighting designer, Thomas Jore as run crewman, and Jordan Hand as spotlight operator.

Major sponsors include Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Community Foundation of Northeast Michigan. The sponsor for this musical is the Alpena County Regional Airport.

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 20. Tickets are $20 per adult, $12 per teen 13 to 17, $8 per child 12 and younger, and $16 for military with ID.

For more information or tickets, call 9