Tuesday, September 28, 2010
“Shout!” is a singing, dancing, high-energy musical that demands an extraordinary performance from its cast, and the six-woman production at the Lawrence Community Theatre valiantly attempts it.
The show explores the culture and the social issues of the ’60s, but music takes center stage. With more than 30 songs, perhaps 10 costume changes, and an emphasis on lighting effects, the musical runs a bit like a modern pop concert. Doug Weaver and Mary Baker do fine jobs as director and musical director, and the production draws energy from their work and that of choreographer Barb Wasson.
Unfortunately, “Shout!” doesn’t pick up steam until about halfway through the first act — perhaps due to some grating sound issues, perhaps because the cast didn’t seem comfortable yet. But the second act seems to rally their confidence, and hit songs like “These Boots Were Made for Walking” and “Downtown” make it easier to forget the slow start. A pulsing finale relies heavily on the display of musical talent shown off in the course of the show, and a more potent start would enhance the effect.
Five actresses dance and sing their way through the show, and each is put into the spotlight by turn. They are distinguished by color. Blue Girl (Genée Figuieras) has poise and beauty, Red Girl (Maggie Gremminger) is a bit naïve, Orange Girl (Kim Scarbrough) exudes domesticity, Yellow Girl (Kayla Motley) is the American (the show is set in Britain) and Green Girl (Melia Stockham) “is quite possibly a slut.”
The group has its strengths and weaknesses. Stockham fills her role and then some, singing and playing her part with gumption. Motley sings beautifully as well, and has some dancing ability. Despite having a less interesting role, Gremminger manages to avoid being overshadowed. Though Figuieras and Scarbrough can sing, they don’t have the needed charisma. Each role requires skill in performance, but perhaps more importantly, presence. With five women on stage, each taking their turn as the lead, it’s easy to notice a hint of timidity.
Each of the characters develops a certain degree of personality, and the musical uses them to delve into the social issues of the ’60s. They encounter difficulties with sexual orientation, family expectations, and other issues. They write to the advice column of Shout! magazine for guidance. Terry Schwartz plays a didactic off-stage columnist who spews ’60s advice, urging the women to please their husbands and boyfriends. But when time progresses and the ’70s come along, the women develop minds of their own.
Through this plot, the show manages to touch on some interesting ideas, but it’s mainly about music.
For some good singing, the occasional laugh, and nostalgia, “Shout!” runs Sept. 30 through Oct. 10, Thursday through Sunday at the Lawrence Community Theatre, which has just changed its moniker to Theatre Lawrence.