Brittany Pierce-Caiazza’s Review of Winter Wonderettes

Shadowland Stages

Ellenville

December 1, 2018

Giving the Gift of Wonder (ettes)

     It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and Shadowland Stages’ production of Winter Wonderettes is just the thing to help you get in the mood!  As an audience member at Winter Wonderettes, you are not simply watching the show – you are IN the show.

You are now an employee of Harper’s Hardware enjoying your holiday show. There are prizes, audience participation, and flirting galore – all the things that make for an enjoyable holiday happening. The set is welcoming and completely convincing as a hardware store, but the seemingly stationary set are actually completely functional and innovative pieces of changing scenery. And there is a special holiday surprise!!

The Wonderettes themselves are an impressive quartet. As Betty Jean, the clear “leader of the pack,” Emma Currie Smith has a commanding presence, and you believe that she would actually be a member of the corporate branch of Harper’s Hardware. She fluidly goes through a range of emotions as she journeys throughout the evening’s festivities. Her rendition of “Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day” is both heartbreaking and beautiful. As her best friend Cindy Lou, Denali Bennett is the most flirtatious of the bunch. She also, oddly enough, has the least to do, aside from dropping sexual innuendos and hip-checking the audience. Her big number, “All Those Christmas Clichés,” seems out of place, although she does a fine job with it.

As Missy, the clear organizer and Velma-esque “brains” of the group, Paige Smith struggles to find her character in the first part of the show, but once she settles in, she relishes in her role as the know-it-all-second-in-command. Smith shines in her rendition of “This Christmas,” hysterically serenading her “husband,” a randomly chosen audience member.

The true star of the show is Libby Rosenfield as the ditzy Suzy. She is a true performer through-and-through, and is amazingly committed to the character she is portraying. She manages to bring Suzy’s mannerisms into every moment. Her song-and-dance routine, “Suzy Snowflake,” is a true crowd pleaser. And kudos to Rosenfield for doing all of this while wearing a pregnant belly AND continually playing to it. There are so many times that actors are given an “apparatus” and forget to acknowledge it, but with a quick belly hug or slowing of pace, Rosenfield acknowledged that she was all in.

While there were many truly joyous moments, one of my absolute favorites was the segment entitled “Christmas Around the World,” which provided each Wonderette the chance to present a carol, you guessed it, from around the world. There were puppets, the mambo, an homage to the dashboard hula dancers, and a truly hilarious rendition of “O Tannenbaum.” This group of talented women play off of each other as seasoned performers, and make you feel that they are truly a girl group, and, most importantly, friends.

Winter Wonderettes is a perfect show to get you in the holiday mood. It is family friendly (although younger members may miss some of the jokes), and there is the chance to be a part of the show (and not just in the front rows!).

Winter Wonderettes runs through December 16th at Shadowland Stages in Ellenville. Tickets and information are available by calling the box office at 845-647-5511 or by visiting shadowlandstages.org.

 

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