If you are looking to embrace your inner flower child, it's the perfect time to make a trip to CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale where Shout! The Mod Musical is making its Long Island premiere until October 9th.
In a musical that feels more like a live concert, boasting over 20 well-known songs from the sixties, five uber-talented women shimmy and sing through the decade with the guidance of Shout! magazine and the advice of a hum-drum columnist. Each without a name or proper back story, they are known only by their colors -- Orange (a motherly housewife), Blue (who is beautiful and knows it), Green (proudly promiscuous), Yellow (very American for a Brit), and Red (a gal of "youthful contradictions"). You will soon learn the soul of the show is less about the story and more about the voices belting out lyric after lyric.
Truth be told, the actresses in this production of Shout! were given quite a challenge -- taking a woman with a limited identity and making her tangible for the audience. Under the direction of PatRick Grossman, these women persevered and managed to make their own individual splashes in the spotlight. Red (Kristen Digilio) delights in her absurd interludes with spot-on physical comedy (reminiscent of a female Kenneth the Page for those 30 Rock fans out there), while Blue (Emily Hannaway) seamlessly transitions from sweet to sultry, displaying true camaraderie and spirit for her fellow castmates. Green (Dawn Klein) is secure and positively bold in her sexuality while Orange (Denise Antonelle) and Yellow (Kaity Cave) are leaders on stage, as they command many of the numbers with their tremendous voices.
While a small audio glitch popped up during the performance I saw, the collection of ballads and pop songs within these two acts mostly soar (under musical director Andrew Frey). With catchy rhythms and smile-inducing choreography featuring such 60s favs as the swim and the frug (thanks also to director PatRick Grossman), "Wishin' and Hopin'", "Son of a Preacher Man", "Goldfinger", and "Downtown" are just a handful of the numbers that left a lasting impression (and got stuck in constant rotation in my head). A memorable turning point came when Blue (Emily Hannaway) gave a powerful performance of "You're My World"; I couldn't help but wonder where those pipes were hiding throughout the rest of the show. Unfortunately, though, Shout!'s title song (and one of the last of the evening) fell flat and lacked the energy and exuberance of many of the other scenes.
A big surprise came near the end of the show when Yellow inquires about a serious home situation and receives an unforgiving answer from the "god-like" advice columnist. After a majority of the show is presented as light-hearted and fun, this came as a huge shock. It was also the first time within the lackluster book that I felt the true rumblings of women's quest for liberation and their difficulties in breaking away from being the conservative do-gooder. Not by any fault of this particular production, but I suddenly wished there was a more gradual build-up to this particular scene because soon after, the last song is sung and the stage goes black.
Whether you are looking to take a trip down memory lane or just hoping to be entertained by five gifted performers, Shout! is the place to be. It may be light on social commentary, but it proves that music truly shaped a decade.
Shout! A Mod Musical is playing through October 9th at CMPac in Oakdale, New York. For the show schedule and ticket purchase, please visit http://cmpac.com/. Stay connected to CMPAC through Twitter or Facebook. Warning: please be advised that this production contains material meant for mature audiences only.
If you are looking to embrace your inner flower child, it's the perfect time to make a trip to CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale