Enjoying SHOUT! The Mod Musical at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in lovely downtown Arlington Heights is not hard to do. The theater asks the audience to ignore that sometimes the talent does not match the descriptions of their characters made within the dialogue of the show. But it’s a small ask, because the cast are all wonderful singers and actors. Once you suspend disbelief, the show is extremely enjoyable.
Parents of children born in the 1990s and later are probably familiar with The Wiggles. Formed in 1991, The Wiggles are an Australian children’s music group that gained worldwide fame and fortune bouncing around on stage and on television to playful songs. The four characters in the band are differentiated by the color of their shirts. And you just couldn’t help but like them.
SHOUT! The Mod Musical, created by Phillip George and David Lowenstein, emulates this marketing ploy. Rather than the characters having names, they are identified by the color of their clothes: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue. Each color is tied to a specific set of personality and physical characteristics. And, like The Wiggles, you just can’t help but like them.
Under the skillful direction of Madison Smith, after being introduced to the audience, the five-woman cast then sing through a delightful playlist of classic 1960s rock and pop tunes strung together with some silly skits in between. The show is set in the U.K., complete with some delightful accents.
To demonstrate the passage of time as the singers take the audience on a tour of the 60s, ticket holders are treated to voiceover readings of articles from the fictitious British pop music fan magazine SHOUT! Hence, the title of the show.
SHOUT! The Mod Musical is not going to win any awards for best script. The dialogue attempts to capture “cheeky” British humor. Sometimes the script succeeds. Sometimes the skits fall flat. Overall, though, it’s a fun time and more than worth the price of admission.
Understanding that the script gives the five talented actresses in the cast very little to work with, all five still turn in great performances that rise above the material. That’s not always easy to do. It is a sign of true talent.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Anna Seibert is one hell of an actress. In the role of Blue, she fully commits to her character and never lets go. Seibert has a beautiful voice that features an absolutely stunning belt, and she can move too! Seibert is a musical theatre actress to watch out for.
As the lone American character Yellow, Carleigh Ray has one of the most amazing voices you’ll ever have a chance to hear. Ray’s voice can stun audiences with its power and gravel but can be equally tender, soft, and touching. I could listen to Ray sing all day. She should serious consider cutting an album and shopping it to labels.
Ashlyn Seehafer as Green is a little pixie of a beauty, but don’t let the small stature fool you. Seehafer is a great vocalist in her own right. The sexually charged Green is probably the most fun character to play in the production. Seehafer seems to be having fun on stage, and it’s infectious to the audience.
On the night of this review, understudy Marcela Ferrarone played the character of Red – doing an incredibly impressive job. Ferrarone gives the audience someone to feel empathy for. She brilliantly captures the awkwardness of being a young woman, amplified by the unique flavor the 1960s specifically. She is an entertaining singer that fits right in with the other great voices.
Kelli Clevenger is no stranger to Metropolis audiences, as the character Orange she puts her trademark voice to good use. Like all the other colors singing and dancing their hearts out on the Metropolis stage, Clevenger is an awesome vocalist capable of distinctive emotional shifts and fine nuances of character.
While each singer has their time in the spotlight, it’s their combined efforts on five-part harmonies that really wows the audience time after time throughout the performance.
The true highlight of the night is Ray’s rendition of Son of a Preacher Man. But it’s not just a solo song, the performance is made all the more powerful by the tight accompanying vocals of the other four singers. With the united talents of all five performers, this is just one of the songs that will make your toes curl.
Although not a body on stage, Meg Elliott should be noted for her narration work as the voice of SHOUT! magazine.
Music direction is by Kenneth McMullen, who also serves as the pianist in the talented onstage band. Joining McMullen in providing just the right energy to back up the singers are David Albright (Reeds), Jeremy Montoto (Bass), and Nick Anderson (Drums).
MOVING TO THE MUSIC
The choreography by Jenilee Houghton is perfect for the show. The production is filled with precision-choreographed routines representative of the popular dance moves of the time. Houghton never pushes the songstresses into maneuvers they can’t do, but has drilled into them an exactitude that rivals The Temptations in their heyday.
Aiding the show’s director Smith, is assistant director Christa Retka. Also contributing to the enjoyment factor of the evening’s entertainment are the skills of Charles Blunt (Lighting Designer), Cindy Moon (Costume Designer), David Moreland (Technical Director), Theresa Neumayer (Properties Designer), Danny Rockett (Sound Designer), Alice Salazar (Wig Designer), Rachel Seabaugh (Scenic & Projections Designer), Linda Scheufler (Dramaturg), Saren Nofs Snyder (Dialect Coach) and Alexis Nau (Assistant Production Manager).
SHOUT! The Mod Musical plays Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through June 11. For tickets call 847.577.2121 or go to www.MetropolisArts.com.
The beautiful Metropolis Performing Arts Center is located in the heart of Chicago’s northwest suburbs in downtown Arlington Heights at 111 West Campbell Street.
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