Boulder Dinner Theatre's Shout is something to yell about
The 1960s of Shout isn't the era of revolution for the hell of it, wild and woolly locks, tie-dye, raucous pleasure, ragged form-busting music and lots of dope — though pot does eventually enter this world. Think of the start of that decade — Jackie Kennedy's demure A-line dresses and pillbox hats — and then the handful of years that followed, with miniskirts, go-go boots, pixie cuts, Mary Quant, big plastic jewelry, Twiggy and those newsboy caps. The music was bright and pop and plastic, too. There were hints of rebellion and, liberated by the Pill, women were happily sleeping around, but in general, conformity still reigned. This production's plot — to use the term loosely — is shaped by the covers of a magazine called Shout and the conventional wisdom voiced by its advice columnist, Gwendolyn Holmes (an unseen Barb Reeves), whose solution to all women's problems, frivolous or serious, is cheerful forbearance and a new hairdo.
There are five women in the show, and each is defined by a color, although the cut, shade and shape of everyone's hair and costumes change with the passing of time. Orange is miserably domesticated and usually drunk; Green a bit of a slut; Red "a big mess"; Blue poised, beautiful and friendless; and Yellow loudly emotional. The plot is purely vestigial, however, and the characterizations go no deeper than those few descriptive phrases. Shout is basically a medley of songs, an easy, non-controversial piece, a sort of place-holder for Boulder's Dinner Theatre between more challenging shows. And yet I enjoyed the evening hugely, and, judging by all the swaying, singing and clapping around me, so did just about everyone else in the audience.
The orchestra, under Neal Dunfee, is very good, and the songs an interesting mix of '60s bounce and '50s sentimentality. I defy you not to spend a few days humming "Georgy Girl," "Don't Sleep in the Subway," "Son of a Preacher Man" or "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" after seeing the show. But the cast is what makes Shout such a smashing success. Julia Perrotta is very cute — sometimes just a shade too cute — as confused little Red, and Ellen Kaye brings charm and a nice singing voice to the role of Blue. But the real news is that this production gives three fab regulars a chance to strut their stuff, and each seizes it in her own inimitable way. Perky doesn't begin to describe Joanie Brosseau's performance; she pops with energy and cheek as sexy Green. Shelley Cox-Robie is all grace, wisdom and gentleness as unhappy Orange; Yellow gets Alicia Dunfee's trademark combination of irony, toughness and spunk — with just a touch of sadness.
Dinner theater isn't usually seen as a place where artists hone their craft, but because of its longevity, Boulder's Dinner Theatre offers something most local companies don't: steady work for actors and a chance to grow in depth and maturity over the years. By now, these three ladies can give pleasure just by walking out onto the stage. So, okay, there's no content here, no depth and no nutrition — but, oh, darling, I haven't grooved as much in yonks.
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