A celebration of all things swingin’ ’60s. A cultural mish-mash from go-go boots to the pill. One, long “Dear Abby” column. And, a rainbow of fun. Literally. SHOUT! The Mod Musical makes up in color what it lacks in content.
The stage is splashed with stripes and dots of red, yellow, green, orange, and blue, matching the cast—five ladies—known only by color. These gals haunt London town during the 1960s and tramp through the best of the decade: Beatles’ world domination, women’s lib, and the first coming of marijuana (or so history books would like kids to believe). As they each work out the ways in which they love and want love, they take relationship cues from Shout! Magazine’s resident columnist—a matronly middle-aged woman whose advice is to always, when in doubt, visit a beauty parlor. This will net you a man or keep the one you have happy.
Anyone who’s ever flipped through a Cosmo can laugh at the absurdity of “The Man Test,” wherein you can learn if your beau’s THE future bridegroom, and horoscopes that are as far from accurate as Venus is from Mars.
Robert Aubrey Davis–WETA regular, host of the national “Millennium of Music” and Washington’s resident (and iconic) culture guru–throws his support behind SHOUT!. Bespectacled and be-wigged (badly), Davis portrays the matronly columnist, the high-pitched Gwendolyn Holmes, in a series of pre-recorded TV segments, giving Gwendolyn’s takes on all things love and capturing the spirit of the pre-bra burning era perfectly.
The best of the ‘60’s—Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man”, Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walkin’”, and Petula Clark’s “Downtown”—form a series of musical medleys. This is where the show fails to be consistent. Some of the actresses project ,as if they are singing at Rome’s Coliseum, while others whimper through their numbers and loose rhythm during even the most basic jazz hands. I wanted to pull the words from their throats as they, unenthused, limped in and out of the songs. I began to question whether they really, genuinely like—no LOVE—the sound of the ‘60s (not just John, Paul, George and Ringo).
Yet, Orange Girl (Ashleigh King), as the only married character, kills it. Every. Single. Time. Her “You Don’t have to Say You Love Me,” is savory, yet sad. The type of puddly-heartbreaking-desperate plea we’ve all wanted to belt. But the show’s greatest moment has a far different feel.
As the girls all come off their first-high (in a well-played series of pot-smoking archetypes—you know, the one with the munchies, the one whose horny, the one who’s an emotional mess, the one who can’t stop laughing) they fall into a chant. “Vagina!” “Vagina!” “Vagina!”
SHOUT! THE MOD MUSICAL
Closes May 25, 2014
ArtSpace Falls Church
410 South Maple Avenue
Falls Church, VA
Fridays thru Sundays
Gradually, the forbidden word takes on a cadence, a rhythm, that’s familiar, but just beyond memory. As the chant heightens, the ladies move closer together, pulling on black gloves and suddenly slinking across the stage. The beat becomes more and more distinct. Until, it’s there. On the tip of your tongue. You remember it! Something, something Bond. James Bond.
They stop, strike a pose (a la Charlie’s Angels), and “Goldfinger” rains down. It’s a man’s theme, but these women know how to sing it. Green Girl (Iyona Blake) leads the pack and, as the resident slut, oozes the words from Bond’s most memorable tune as if she were a pot of warm honey.
Of course, there’s a curse to using an existing canon of songs, because they are always, only just akin to our expectations. Never how we really remember, and thus want, them. SHOUT! doesn’t quite own all the music in a way that makes one forget Dusty’s treasured pipes.
But, if you’re feeling nostalgic, or appreciate quality songs (and adore PVC dresses or mini-skirts—seriously fun costumes here), you won’t be disappointed. SHOUT! is filled with peace, love, and happiness.
SHOUT! The Mod Musical . Created by Phillip George and David Lowenstein . Directed by Matt Conner; Starring Aimee Barnes (Yellow Girl), Melissa Berkowitz (Red Girl), Iyona Blake (Green Girl), Ashleigh King (Orange Girl), and Sarah Anne Sillers (Blue Girl) with special guest appearance by Robert Aubry Davis. Scenic and Costumer Design: Margie Jervis ; Choreography: Stephen Gregory Smith . Music Director: Mark Deffenbaugh . Lighting design: Joey Wallen . Lighting Technician: Joseph Lovins . Sound Technician: Teddy Wiant . Presented by Creative Cauldron . Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.