By Beki Pineda
SHOUT – Created by Phillip George, David Lowenstein and Peter Charles Morris; Directed by Kate Vallee. Produced by Town Hall Arts Center (2450 West Main Street, Littleton) through June 20, 2021. Tickets available for live performances and streaming at 303-794-ARTS or townhallartscenter.org.
The very first song on this program celebrating the music popular among girl singers in the 60’s is “England Swings.” I can vouch firsthand that England was swinging in the 60’s because I was living there from 1964 to 1967. Not doing much swinging myself however; but did get to witness as music and fashion burst on the streets and on the TV. This production recalls with fondness the music and the mentality of this time. The patter in-between the songs vividly illustrates the prevalent female state of mind in this pre-feminist era. . . which elicited audible groans from the women in the audience. Were we really ever that naïve?
The five women singers who comprise this cast pay homage to the music of the amazing Petula Clark (“Round Every Corner,” “I Know a Place,” Don’t Sleep in the Subway,” “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” “A Sign of the Times,” and all time favorite “Downtown”), the soulful Dusty Springfield (“Wishing and Hoping,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself,” “All I See is You,” and the rocking “Son of a Preacher Man”), Sandie Shaw (“How Can You Tell”), Lulu (“To Sir With Love” and the title song), Shirley Bassey (a parody of “Goldfinger” callec “Coldfinger”) and Cilla Black (“You’re My World”). Mary Hopkins remembrance of “Those Were the Days” added an even deeper sense of nostalgia. The girls even allowed American’s to invade the party by including Dionne Warwick’s hit “Wives and Lovers” and Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking.” The very slight insignificant contribution of men to the festivities were with Roger Miller’s “England Swings” and Len Barry’s “One-Two-Three” – fun to hear again.
But the ladies of the cast made the evening. Their energy and vocal renderings brought back the era and the memories. The Mary Quant style dresses conceived and created by Costumer Terri Fong-Schmidt conjured images of Twiggy and Sassoon hairstyles. Performing on a set straight out of the American LAUGH-IN show, the girls recreate an English style variety show. Hanna Dotson, Piper Lindsay Arpan, Amy Dollar, Valerie Igoe, and Ryahn Evers are all making their Town Hall debut, as well as Director and Choreographer Kate Vallee. A winning team to be sure, they performed together as though they had been doing the show for months, instead of it being opening night. While all the girls had outstanding solos, Hanna stole my heart with her renditions of the Petula Clark songbook. It was so enjoyable to see each of these talented ladies step into the spotlight time and again and sing their little socks off. Each of them have spent hours in the chorus of other musicals; each of them deserve this chance to show audiences that they have what it takes to carry a show. Good on you, ladies.
The stories and patter between songs enhanced the impression of the (somewhat) innocent 60’s. “I tried coke once but the ice cubes kept getting stuck in my nose!” “In my family, inheritance means my mother’s hips!” A unique little side note: It was so much fun to be there the night that Piper’s husband and son Tucker attended the show. Because every time I glanced down the aisle at Tucker, he was dancing in his seat and miming the words to his mother’s activities having watched her rehearse. Obviously a dancer in the making!
Many theatres are choosing light-hearted small cast productions to ease their way back into the spotlight. This joyful musical was a good choice for Town Hall. For those still leery of public outings, the production is also available for streaming on certain dates – check the website for time and date. It is guaranteed to make you smile and sing along.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!