The Show Must Go On! - The Marvelous Wonderettes at Sunset Playhouse
By Ryan Albrechtson
Photo Credit: LEFT: Sunset Playhouse's current production. RIGHT: Milwaukee Rep's premiere production.
"The show must go on!" said Nancy Visintainer-Armstrong, Artistic Director of Sunset Playhouse. "Entertainment begins - no matter what - at Sunset!"
Sunset Playhouse opened The Marvelous Wonderettes on January 16th. It’s the 1958 Springfield High School prom where we meet Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy, and Suzy, four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts! As we learn about their lives and loves, the girls serenade us with classic ‘50s hits, including “Lollipop,” “Dream Lover,” “Stupid Cupid,” and “Lipstick on Your Collar.” In act two, the Wonderettes reunite to take the stage and perform at their ten-year reunion.
The show, which made its world premiere 20 years at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, features Amy Barrett as Cindy Lou, Kimberly Giddens and Missy, Jackey Boelkow as Suzy, and Kassandra Novell as Betty Jean. Well... it usually does.
Early afternoon on Thursday, January 23rd, Sunset Playhouse shared an unfortunate update with their social media following. "Unfortunately, one of our Wonderettes (Betty Jean - Kassandra Novell) is sick and unable to perform tonight."
Rather than cancel the evening's performance, Sunset Playhouse came up with a creative solution.
"I originated the role of Missy 20 years ago for the first two productions at the Rep," said Becky Spice, who served as the director of Sunset Playhouse's production. "But I’m going on tonight as Betty Jean. A role originated by the late great actress, Laurie Birmingham, to whom I dedicated this show."
"Though I’m familiar with the material, I will not hold a candle to Kassy’s Betty Jean! She is amazing," said Spice. "But having me walk the role is better than canceling. I think audiences are supportive of these kinds of situations. It’s an adventure!"
Spice will join the Wonderettes for tonight's performance, with the hope that Kassandra will be able to return to the stage for tomorrow's performance. All of us at Footlights send our get-well-wishes to Kassandra, and a huge break-a-leg to Becky!
"Once a Wonderette, always a Wonderette!" said Spice.