Sara Mackie* as Betty Jean, Denise Devlin* as Cindy Lou, Brooke Rucidlo as Suzy & Mia Gentile* as Missy. Photo by Sandy Underwood. *Member of Actors

WINTER WONDERETTES presented by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati through July 24. You can read the show description here.

In the spirit of the holidays, ETC is collecting non-perishable food items for the Freestore Foodbank. Donations can be dropped off during normal business hours or during any performance. Their goal is to fill three barrels before the production ends.

They’re back! “They” being the cast of ETC’s 2010 multi-extended production,  THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES. And so are their fans, if opening night was any indication. The four lady ensemble had the audience wrapped around their collective finger from the very first number.

The easy chemistry of the four leads carries into this Christmas-themed sequel and every “wonderette” has moments to shine in the show. Personal favorites include the belt numbers from Mia Gentile and Denise Devlin, the first act closing lament by Sara Mackie, and a great comic turn in “Suzy Snowflake” by Brooke Rucidlo.

Mark Sorensen’s costume design perfectly compliments the four individual characters, right down to their shoes (and baby bump). The special costume for Suzy in the Suzy Snowflake number is a visual gem.

Not since THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL has Shannon Rae Lutz needed to fill so much space on stage. Again she is more than up to the task as the collection of period, holiday bric-a-brac and hardware-esque wares, fill the space without cluttering it. My mom was especially fond of the cherry red step stool seats, just like the one she used growing up.

Solid work by the production staff includes: direction by D. Lynn Meyers, music direction by Scot Woolley, choreography by Patti James, and set and lighting design (loved the extension cord rats nest) by Brain c. Mehring.

Two small issues I wanted to mention. When singing, Suzy’s character voice can get a bit harsh on the high notes. The character of Cindy Lou is the one least vested in performing at the hardware store, which works, but a couple of times it looked as if she almost un-invested out of the show.

Overall a very well-done, fun and light holiday production, perfect for chasing away the summer heat. I recommend getting your tickets early as performances will sell out.

Click here for a complete list of showtimes.

Links to all reviews can be found on the BTC REVIEWS page. Blog postings, links to other media reviews and more are available on my FaceBook fan page or you can receive updates on Twitter from @BTCincyRob.


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