Friday, April 26, 2013

MMT Is Back and It's Nice To Have the Music

'Wonderettes' on stage at the end of the production
Sometimes you don't know what you will miss until it's gone. Mill Mountain Theater has essentially been gone for more than three years now, but it's back and the return underscores just how much the Roanoke Valley has been lacking in musical stage productions.

MMT was so heavy with musicals before it failed in 2009, that its constant music fare became drab, predictable and even boring. That wasn't the case tonight with the return of the theater and its musical "The Marvelous Wonderettes," with four professional actors in the show's roles as a girl group at a prom in the 1950s and a 1960s class reunion.

In Mill Mountain Theatre's absence as the region's only equity company, local companies have reacted with bench-building strength, developing actors, directors and writers in a variety of formats. Except for Hollins University's wonderful theater, however, musicals were noticeably absent--and a lot of that can be attributed to expense.

MMT, which is hyper cost-conscious addressed that expense with a four-character play that is simply a delight in every sense. The four actors brought in from New York to play the Wonderettes--Andrea Dotto, Katie Emerson, Rebecca Russell and Jessi Tidwell--were perfectly delightful and brought voice strength that has been rare in these parts of late.

The "Wonderettes" was more of a revue than a play, but it works and audiences have been large the first three nights and a couple of shows next week have sold out, according to board of directors president Jack Avis.

The future is looking promising, too, with three more productions planned through the end of the year, including "39 Steps" and "Sound of Music" in December. Tickets are available ($25 and $27 for "Wonderettes") at 540-342-5740.

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