'SHOUT!' gives new life to '60s-era classics
Five great voices make one great show
"SHOUT! the Mod Musical," now playing at the Studio Theatre, is well worth the trip to Serpentine Lane, especially since it's the last show that will perform there since the Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre venue is closing.
"SHOUT!" is largely a vehicle for five talented singers to belt out some '60s-era classics by some of the female icons of the day. These are songs that are part of the collective consciousness: "These Boots are Made for Walkin," for example, is probably known by 20-somethings as well as 60-somethings.
The show may be light on plot but more than makes up for it in musical energy. "SHOUT!" is nominally about the emotional evolution of five young women in England, known not by name but by color, as they sing and dance their way through the 1960s, experiencing Beatlemania, experimenting with drugs and casual sex, thanks to the pill, confronting divorce, domestic abuse and sexual identity. Along the way, they deal with their problems by writing to an advice columnist at SHOUT! magazine (hence the name of the show) and, of course, by song.
Those topics may have once been controversial, but propelled by the music and lively choreography by Justin Isla, the five women singers give the show a PG-13 rather than an R flavor.
Orange, played by Sherrill-Lee McCuin, is the first of the group to get married, have children and get divorced. Blue, performed by Amy Lucido comes out of the closet; Green, Katie Pogue, is a party girl; Red, played by Katie Potts is the nerd; and Yellow, Morgan Breedveld, is the girl from the U.S. in love with Paul McCartney.
The opening number, a medley of "Downtown, "England Swings," "Round Every Corner" and "I Know a Place" establishes right off the bat that these five actors have an excellent combination of vocal abilities and moves. Each is also given an opportunity to showcase her talent several times during the performance and each threatens to steal the show in her own way.
Even without a plot, the show would stand on the merits of the songs alone, admirably done by the performers. McCuin shines in "Wishin' and Hopin'," as does Lucido in "Don't Sleep in the Subway."
"Son of a Preacher Man" is so ubiquitous that it almost doesn't need a singer, although Breedveld's version does Dusty Springfield justice. "Coldfinger" (not Goldfinger, although the melody was the same) was well handled by Pogue, with help from the rest of the cast, which mimicked instruments, while Potts' rendition of "Those Were the Days" drew the audience into clapping and singing along.
The performers' names should be familiar to Tri-Valley Repertory fans. Three of the five -- Breedveld, Potts and Lucido -- have already appeared together in the 2010 TVRT production of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." Pogue and Potts appeared in "All Shook Up" last year, and McCuin and Breedveld were in TVRT's production of "Hairspray" at the Bankhead Theatre in Livermore in November.
It takes a certain amount of bravery to stage a show that was panned by the New York Times. But "SHOUT!" is in good company: "Wicked," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Evita" all received bad reviews from the Times but went on to win Tony awards.
The show runs through April 29. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, $20 for students; purchase online at www.trivalleyrep.org or call 462-2121.