It's time for commencement in 1958 at Springfield High School, and the first act of "The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns" finds Missy, Cindy Lou, Suzy and Betty Jean looking back on their final year in high school and ahead to their bright futures.
The second act zooms to 1968 and finds the women bridesmaids at Missy's and Mr. Lee's wedding celebration. They rock out with classic pop tunes such as "Dedicated to the One I Love," "Sealed With a Kiss," "Dancin' in the Street," "The Look of Love," "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and "River Deep, Mountain High."
Audra Cramer reprises her role as Missy, Elyssa Ramirez plays Betty Jean, Ally Young-Price plays Suzy and Emelie Faith-Thompson plays Cindy Lou in this smash-hit Broadway musical written by Roger Bean.
What: "The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns"
When: Previews Wednesday and Thursday, April 9-10, opens Friday, April 11, and runs through May 25; curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays and 1 p.m. Sundays
Where: Oregon Cabaret Theatre, First and Hargadine streets, Ashland
Tickets: $19 for previews; $20 to $38 for all other shows
Call: 541-488-2902 or see www.oregoncabaret.com
"They sound amazing," says OCT Artistic Director Jim Giancarlo. "We listen to them rehearse all day while we're up in the office working. Their voices are beautiful and blend well."
"The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns" previews Wednesday and Thursday, April 9-10, opens Friday, April 11, and runs through May 25. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays and 1 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $19 for the preview performances, $20 to $38 for all other shows, and can be purchased online at www.oregoncabaret.com or by calling 541-488-2902. Dinner reservations begin at 6:30 p.m. for evening shows; brunch begins at 11:30 a.m. for 1 p.m. matinees. Appetizers, beverages and desserts do not require reservations.
Melissa Rain Anderson directs and choreographs "Caps and Gowns," the third in Bean's "Wonderettes" series.
"It's a continuance of the girls' journey together," Anderson says. "Audiences have followed them through high school, their senior year, a 10-year reunion and now their graduation."
This episode is interesting because audiences will get to know a little more about the Wonderettes. During the wedding reception, each woman shares a secret about herself. We discover who each one has become and how their characters have developed, Anderson says.
"It's a little more heartfelt," she says. "Their graduation is a big milestone for them. The second act goes a little deeper for Betty Jean and Cindy Lou, who have real emotional arcs going on in their lives. Betty Jean is divorced and Cindy Lou is starting a new relationship. Sweetly, they help each other. All of the women really care for each other.
"Close to the end of the show, Cindy Lou says to Betty Jean, 'You should know by now, we're all in this together.' "
Cramer has no doubt fine-tuned the character of Missy. She played the role in "The Marvelous Wonderettes," "Winter Wonderettes" and now "Caps and Gowns."
Rain also directed "The Marvelous Wonderettes" in 2011 at OCT.
"I've directed this series a lot. I love it," she says. "The song list is the star. It's full of great tunes from the '50s and '60s. So far, I think this is the best one. The Tina Turner song ("River Deep, Mountain High") is awesome. The songs are sung in four-part harmony throughout the show, and there is quite a bit of dancing in this one."