Meadow Brook Theatre swings into spring with ‘Shout! The Mod Musical,’ a revue that shimmies right through the best ‘girl songs’ of the ‘60s and lands with both feet firmly planted in 1970.
You don’t have to be a child of the ‘60s to enjoy this musical time capsule created by Phillip George and David Lowenstein. Whatever your age, we can almost guarantee that you’ll be familiar with most of the songs.
The smashing five-woman cast and three-piece orchestra (led by musical director Daniel Feyer) create a delightful space in which to remember some of the legendary songs that first empowered female performers. Identified by the color of their costumes (rendered with delightful authenticity by Liz Moore), the cast includes both MBT favorites and new comers: Liz Griffith (Orange Girl), Katie Hardy (Green Girl), Allison Hunt (Blue Girl), Renee Turner (Yellow Girl), and Charis Vaughn (Red Girl).
Set in London, the songs shuffle chronologically through the ‘60s in jukebox fashion, covering the hits of Lulu, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark and others. The songbook include such favorites as ‘Downtown,’ ‘To Sir With Love,’ and ‘Son of a Preacher Man.’ The audience cheered for each number – but especially popular was the rendering of ‘Goldfinger’ – in which the singers vocally perform the trademark instrumental riffs and bass guitar licks while waving imaginary finger pistols in the best 007James Bond style.
The women deliver a delightful ensemble performance, and each song reveals something distinctive about at least one of the characters. We come to know and care about each through the occasional questions they submit to a fictional advice columnist of ‘SHOUT’ magazine. This device provides the slender thread of a story that underscores the progress made by women in that remarkable ten year span. While the questions shift from teenage crushes to more adult problems, the smug, smarmy voiceover of the advice columnist is consistently inane. Her solution to every trauma runs along the lines of getting ‘a fetching new hairstyle and a new shade of lipstick.’ It’s hilariously condescending … but stops being funny when it comes as advice on how to deal with a drunken and physically abusive husband.
And so, the ‘girls’ come of age … come to rely on their own better sense … and emerge a bit bruised but wiser. Ultimately, they enter the era of the ‘70s as more confident, capable women.
The set design by Vince Mountain is perfect – conjuring images of the daisy-splattered sets of such TV shows as The Dating Game, Laugh-In, and other ‘mod’ programs.
‘Shout! The Mod Musical’ is directed with obvious affection by MBT Artistic Director Travis W. Walter.
‘This is a wonderful tour of England in the ‘60s,’ says Travis Walter. ‘We watch these women shake and shimmy to some of the best girl songs from the era. I know people will love it.’
‘Shout!’ runs at Meadow Brook Theatre, on the campus of Oakland University, from April 20 through May 15, 2011. Check the website for show times, as there are two performances offered on certain Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets range from $24 to $39 and are available by calling the Meadow Brook Theatre box office at 248-377-3300 or by going online. Student discounts are available at the box office. The schedule includes an American Sign Language interpreted performance on Wednesday, May 5 at 8:00 p.m.