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Enter wonderful world of “Winter Wonderettes” at Broadway Palm

By Staff | Dec 17, 2009

Walk into the lobby of the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and you’ll immediately notice you’ve entered a holiday winter wonderland. The magic of this magical season is reflected in this tastefully bedecked entrance. Kudos to whoever decorated the reception area – it is a fitting frame for the two seasonal shows (“A Christmas Carol” and “Winter Wonderettes”) currently playing in the two theaters.

If you are one of the folks who love this cyclical holiday celebration, and enjoy the secular movies, cartoons, the rounds of parties, the hustle and bustle of shopping at the gift-laden stores and shopping centers -including the kind of commercial music heard in these places and on the radio – you will absolutely adore the wonderful world of the “Winter Wonderettes,” the ’60s Christmas musical created by Roger Bean currently playing to packed houses at the Off Broadway Palm through Dec. 26th.

It’s Christmas 1968 and “Harper’s Hardware Holiday Happenings” has gotten its staff, the Winter Wonderettes – also known as Missy Lee (played by Sarah Ann Koster), Suzy Stevens (Samantha B. Northart), Betty Jean Reynolds (Marija Reiff), and Cindy Lou Huffington (Samantha Rotella) – to create a rockin’ ’60s holiday party for the hardware store. The ladies come up with entertainment fare that’s fast (90 minutes) and furiously funny. The perky Wonderettes warble a medley of 25 holiday tunes among them “Jingle Bell Rock,” “A Marshmallow World,” ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Santa Baby,” to name but a few.

It also seems that Christmas bonuses have been put on hold this season, but that doesn’t stop the Wonderettes for long they just blaze ahead with energy and joy. Imagine, if you will, TV’s “Golden Girls” in their 20s doing a Christmas show and you get the picture. The flakey, ditsy blonde, Suzy (Northart) dons a snowflake costume (including tap shoes) and tippy-taps her way through singing the elegy, “Suzy Snowflake.” The sexy one Betty Jean (Reiff) vamps her way through “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” to some unsuspecting male audience member whom she selects to play Bob from the plumbing department. The logically droll Wonderette – Cindy Lou (Rotella) – had us in stitches with her version of “We Wanna See Santa Do the Mambo,” while the bossy, take-charge Wonderette – Missy (Koster) – took charge: three members of the audience onstage and getting the entire audience to participate in the hilarious Bells Medley segment. All of us jingled and jangled like mad through “Ring Those Christmas Bells,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Jingle Bells.” The finale had the wacky Wonderettes pick one lone guy from the audience to sit in for Santa Claus, giving a whole new meaning to Santa’s yearly question “And what do you want for Christmas, little girl?” while the ladies schmoozed all over him with “Santa Baby.” This Santa was a perfect foil and straight man for the frolicsome foursome – his double-takes were priceless.

Director Paul Bernier’s feverish pacing and Choreographer Ann Marie McCleary’s busy staging were just right for this zippy show.

So, as I said, if ’60s music and a show that is commercially fast and funny is what you like, then make your holiday wish list come true by calling the box office at 278-4422 for your reservation and “rock on” with “Winter Wonderettes.” When you call, remind ’em Marsha sent you.