The songs of London in the '60s join the galaxy of jukebox musicals, bringing the energy, verve and style that made the music so memorable.
Five vibrant young women, identified by the color of their clothing, fill the stage at Theatre LaB. The Blue Girl is the statuesque platinum blond Adrian Coco Anderson, The Green Girl is red-haired Amber Bennett, often portraying women in touch with their sensual nature, The Yellow Girl is the mainstream blonde Kelly Cornell, and The Red Girl is the red-haired Monica Marcha, often portraying domestically oriented women.
Rounding out the cast is black-haired Melanie Bernsen Clickscales as the Orange Girl, who early on says, "I don't look like the other girls," and it's true -- she is considerably less svelte, not as tall, and wears glasses, but she provides the comic relief and a welcome change from what sometimes seems like conventional and interchangeable onstage beauty. The wigs help identify the characters, and are well-designed, avoiding the pitfall of hiding half the face.
All these performers are excellent, working beautifully as an ensemble, and shining when they segue into solo moments, but it is fair to single out Cornell as a performer who can really sell a song. Anderson showed her poise and style as she interacted with the audience in "Don't Sleep in the Subway." Marshall made us care about the marital difficulties of her character, and Bennett as the sensual girl had some of the best lines and delivered them with telling bravura. And Clickscales, of course, is a stand-out in every sense of the word.
I wrote "lines" because the evening includes vignettes that bridge and connect the songs, and these work wonderfully well, adding humor and wit. Their first experience with marijuana is a howl, and a fixation with Paul McCartney runs through the show, as does the recorded voice of a largely clueless dispenser of advice to the lonely. The work is directed by Mark Adams, who keeps the electricity high and the songs flowing seamlessly, the deft musical direction is by Johnny Nichols Jr. and the adroit choreography is by Erica Wylie Motley.
Costuming by Amanda Bezemek is often quite witty, and the outfits shift as the '60s proceed. I especially liked those as the '70s loomed, and there is an amusing change at the finale.
And, yes, you will remember the songs -- who could forget, for example, "Downtown" or "These Boots Were Made for Walking," "Georgy Girl," "Goldfinger" or scores of others in this multitalented musical cornucopia. Much of the credit is due, of course, to the talented composers and lyricists who created these powerful moments etched indelibly into our memory banks, and presented here with all the ebullience, power and fire they have earned.
Moments of nostalgia merge seamlessly with humor, as the hit songs of the '60s are re-created by five skilled performers, making an evening of delightful entertainment.
Shout! The Mod Musical continues through March 25 at Theatre LaB Houston, 1706 Alamo. For ticketing or information, call 713-868-7516 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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