Seven Angels, Waterbury: The thermometer may be reading “frigid,” but you’ll forget about the cold once “The Bikinis” — a new musical beach party cranks up the heat. Written by Ray Roderick and James Hindman with musical arrangements by Joe Baker, the focus is on four talented young women who do justice to the hits of the 1960s. Set in a trailer park community that is located on a beach, the plot revolves around the fact that a developer wants to buy up the trailers and build a condominium complex. The girls, two sisters, a cousin and a friend sing to raise funds to fight the developer and become so popular that they decide to become a girl group and make a record.
While the plot may seem like a stretch, it’s actually based on a true story. A developer really wanted to buy and demolish a trailer park that was located right on a beach. The characters are all talented vocalists who have been perfectly cast in their roles and the song selections they sing. Director/choreographer Foster Reese and music director Benjamin McCormack add plenty of polish to the lively production.
The first act goes by so quickly, it’s hard to believe that just about 17 musical numbers have been performed. Most memorable are “It’s in His Kiss,” which all four vocalists perform. When the four sing together, they do harmonize beautifully especially in numbers such as “Under the Boardwalk,” and “Where the Boys Are.” Don’t think that this is just a musical revue. These performers take the audience back to the sixties and the age of innocence, then move forward to the Vietnam War, and as the times change, so do the songs and so do the four women.
Erin West Reed plays Jodi and delivers a powerful presentation. She has a voice that resonates throughout the theater and, like her character, is confident and poised. When she sings “Mamma Said,” you know she means every word, but when she comes on as Elvis, she holds the audience in her hands.
Chelsea Dacey plays Karla and does justice to hits like “Be My Baby” and “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” while Samantha Rae Bass as Barbara will have you eager to jump up and join her in “The Twist.” Brittany Mulcahy as Annie gets to show her talent in the second act when she sings “Midnight Blue.” Expect skits that pay tribute to Annette and Frankie, Nancy Sinatra and a bubbly “Secret Agent Man” all in the first act.
Act Two opens with a more serious attitude in place as “Time of the Season,” “When Will I Be Loved?” “I Will Survive” and “Last Dance” illustrate how far the four women have come since their more carefree beach days of the first act. On opening night there were a few moments when a singer forgot a synchronized hand movement or an opening line of a number was not on spot, but overall the songs were so good that the audience loved every moment and gave the quartet a standing ovation.
The band was wonderful and featured music director Benjamin McCormack, Kate Luurtsema, Mark Ryan, and Jamie Sherwood. Daniel Husvar designed a set as colorful and lively as the music. Two brightly-striped cabanas, a white beach fence that divided the singers and action from the on-stage musicians and backdrop that filled with projected colors.
This production has a short run and plays through Jan. 20. Box office: 203-757-4676.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.