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Girl Group: Shout! The Mod Musical

By: Tom Dooney

I’m going to put together a musical revue. It is going to be titled Just Sing The Damned Songs. And
despite the title, it’s going to include great songs. Lots of them.
Really good songs worth singing. What I will toss out is the damned script
and damned connective material. No concept. No unifying theme. No rhyme
but the lyrics and no reason but the love of music and singing and maybe…maybe some dance. Who’s with me?

I say this after seeing too many revues that falter, regardless of the
caliber of the production. Trying to force sense upon this sort of an
evening’s entertainment is what debilitates most revues (or variety
shows or musicales, if one is going to be a stickler on categorization)
before the performers bring it to even the most willing audiences. In a revue,
anything that stands in the way of the music is an impediment.

Segue to Shout! The Mod Musical
which has opened MusicalFare’s season and runs for the next few weeks.
Five singers march through a hit parade of 1960s vintage pop titles.
This collection of tunes were all by British composers or sung by Brit girl
singers with a couple of stray tunes thrown in for good measure. This
was a remarkable time in pop music. British artists and fans admired the
soul of U.S.
music. Stateside, the cool presentation was envied. As a result of this
mutual admiration, we have hybrid tunes that were emotive and
accessible, easily truthful and fun, especially suited to be sung by the
female voice and from a female point of view.

Lisa Ludwig has found five lively, clever performers with ringing voices who tackle the show’s songs with verve. Shout! stirs
memories of poignant Dusty Springfield, sultry Shirley Bassie, perky
Petula Clark and more. However Amy Jakiel, Michele Marie Roberts, Nancy
Sam, Hannah L. Sharp and Lyndsey Leigh Thuerck make the songs their own.
woman is showcased to advantage, each gets a chance to belt, coo and
wail effectively. That they sound so well…and so well together…is a
credit to musical director Jason Bravo.

show is the revue equivalent of a chick flick, but at the performance I
attended it was men most often singing along with the cast. Shout!
reflects a generation of girls who knew how to have fun while Cyndi
Lauper was still a tot. They would grow up–in numbers to big to ignore–to be the roaring women of the 70s. But at this time, fashion was fun.
Days were fun. Nights were more fun. Love was fun. Lack of love, was not
a tragedy, it just spoiled the fun for a moment. Musically, love was an
anthem, a hymn…it was every breath you’d take.

Go to Shout!
for the music. Stay for the music. Enjoy the music, but try to tune out
the connective material. It undermines the joyous intent of the songs.
Use of British mod chatter is a hit or miss thing. Despite charming
voice-overs by Anne Gayley and Lisa Ludwig, the more the script tries to
provide context, the more it disappoints. The jokes are passable but
its attempts at seriousness are ineffective. But, oh, that music….

Kari Drozd and choreographer Kristy E. Schupp have been working hard of
late. Both their names seem to be on half the shows I see lately. Nice
work if you can get it.

Drozd has a clever eye for the novelty of Carnaby Street
styles. I’d dispute the need to make any of the lovely actresses in the
cast look less attractive than they actually are. Attempts to provide
character statements in clothes and grooming make some of the appealing,
young cast look frumpy. Costumes for the finale are witty enough to
redeem any previous shortcomings.

Shout! is
my favorite of Schupp’s choreographic work to date. The best of it
follows the go-go dance trends of the era or lends interpretive moves in
synch with the moods of the songs. It is less successful when merely
illustrating lyrics…hand on chest for “I love”, pointy fingers for
“you”…when half of the line-up consists of love ballads this can be
repetitive. Still, in this show with wall-to-wall songs, much of
enthusiasm is rooted in dance. Schupp’s support of Ludwig’s staging
cannot be underestimated.

P.S. Michele Marie Roberts is one of the funniest women to ever act on Buffalo stages. There I said it.

One has to wonder why humor unfriendly to gays and lesbians is being
used as entertainment by a cast and company who are, in life, pretty
darned gay friendly.

Who Might Like Shout!: Birds.
Or in U.S.-speak, chicks. If you are a girl, have ever been a girl,
have ever wanted to be a girl or have ever loved a girl, tug on your
kickiest boots, hop on you pink Vespa and scoot to the box office.

Shout! The Mod Musical (through
October 17): starring Amy Jakiel, Michele Marie Roberts, Nancy Sam,
Hannah L. Sharp and Lyndsey Leigh Thuerck, musical direction by Jason
Bravo and choreography by Kristy E. Schupp. Directed by Lisa Ludwig for
MusicalFare; 4380 Main Street, [on the Daemen College campus], Amherst. or (716) 830-8540.

Ready boots?: Michele Marie Roberts, Lyndsey Leigh Thuerck, Nancy Sam, Amy Jakiel and Hannah L. Sharp step up Shout! The Mod Musical.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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