The summer is an interesting time in Gainesville. About 40,000 students are gone, and the town seems to slow down. The Hippodrome Theatre takes advantage of this relaxing time to entertain the city with its annual summer musical.
The Hippodrome is located at 25 SE Second Place, and at the end of this month it will be putting on “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” written and created by Roger Bean and directed by the Hippodrome’s artistic director, Lauren Caldwell. Caldwell has been the artistic director since the early 1990s. The script is given to the theater and then interpreted by Caldwell.
The play will officially open June 1, but on May 30 at 7 p.m. and May 31 at 8 p.m. ,there will be previews for a reduced price of $15.
The show opens at a high school prom in 1958, where the audience is introduced to the Wonderettes, four girls with big dreams and even bigger voices. Over the course of the evening, the ladies are called on to provide entertainment for the prom, where they sing renditions of hits like “Lollipop” and “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.”
The cast is made up of four women: Wendi Stoltzfus, returning from last year’s production of “Suds,” and two recent UF graduates, Katrina Asmar and Diany Rodriquez. Also onstage is Kelly Atkins, who some fans may remember from previous roles with the Hippodrome.
This is Atkins’ seventh summer musical.
“Six out of seven of the musicals I have been in are what we call ‘jukebox musicals,’ where the songs are hits from a time period,” Atkins said. “This one incorporates two distinctively different eras — it almost feels like two different shows.”
After the intermission, the play is set in 1968, 10 years later. The women discuss where they have been in the last decade, as well as their trials, tribulations and triumphs. Famous songs from the 60s are sprinkled in such as “R-E-S-P-E-C-T“ and “Son of a Preacher Man.”
Jessica Hurov, director of marketing and advertising for the Hippodrome, said that this show is for everyone — people who just love to hear big voices, or those with nostalgia.
Hurov said there are more than 30 songs in the show, but some are medleys. The music will be recorded by a full-orchestrated band prior to the show and then played over speakers.
Although the music is the main component, the outfits are going to be lively as well.
“The costumes are a big spectacle,” Caldwell said.
The clothes will transition from poofy prom dresses to mini skirts and go-go boots.
Despite attire of the actors and the formal appearance of the building from the outside, the Hippodrome has a very “come as you are” feel.
“People can get dressed up or come comfortably. It is just a place for people to go and have fun,” Hurov said. “We have a bar, people can get drinks, sit back and enjoy two hours of entertainment.”
As well as producing plays and showing films, the theater has an art gallery located on the first floor that houses all types of local art. This summer, in honor of the Hippodrome’s 40th birthday, the gallery will host a series of exhibits relating to the theater itself.
“The gallery is a Hippodrome retrospective,” Hurov said.
There will be photographs of plays from the last 40 years, as well as behind-the-scenes shots. The theater’s birthday is in April 2013.
Rehearsals for “The Marvelous Wonderettes” last six hours a day and will run through next week, Caldwell said. If the finished product is anything like the practices it will be full of laughs, fun and dancing.
Ticket prices for students are $12 with an ID and senior tickets are $22. General public tickets range from $25 to $32 depending on seating.
For more information about the Hippodrome Theatre or to purchase tickets to see the films and plays, visit www.thehipp.org or check out its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HippodromeTheatre.
The Hippodrome Theatre will be putting on “The Marvelous Wonderettes” as its annual summer musical. It will be on the stage eight times a week starting June 1.