By Dee Jae Cox
No matter our faith or beliefs, there is no denying the spectacular beauty of the holiday season. Wrapped in glittering tinsel, sparkling lights and falling snow, (if only in our imaginations.) December can be a magical time. No other time of year will the song ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland,’ inspire such warm wishes and hopeful thoughts.
And there’s no better way to ease into the magic of the season than with Roger Bean’s holiday comedy classic, the Winter Wonderettes. Presented by Desert Theatreworks, and directed by Raul Valenzuela, this trip down memory lane features an outstanding and memorable quartet. Sassy Cindy Lou, edgy Betty Jean, pregnant (again) Suzy and serious Missy are the entertainment for Harper’s Hardware annual holiday party and they are not shy when it comes to sharing stories about their lives. Breaking the fourth wall and including the audience as fellow Harper’s employees, this group makes sure that no one is left without a smile and a little holiday cheer.
Performed with such charm and talent, Keanna Garcia, (Suzy,) Emily Unnasch, (Cindy Lou,) Kelly McDaniel, (Betty Jean,) and Verity VanDams, (Missy,) circa 1960, put their own spin on classic Christmas songs and weave together a light-hearted night filled with laughter and holiday spirt. Magic really does happen when the right actors are paired together with the right script. This quartet will make you forget all of your troubles and take you back to a bygone era. Phil Murphy’s lighting design and Jeff Mazer’s projection design, will give you a chill from those snowflakes drifting down upon the stage.
Garcia, Unnasch, McDaniel and Van Dams are all beautifully accomplished singers, each lending their character’s unique personality to the standout performances. Valenzuela’s staging keeps this production moving quickly and the choreography is easily performed by this talented cast.
In 1999 Roger Bean first introduced his “Marvolous Wonderettes,” to the world. His sequels include Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns, Wonderettes: Dream On, and Wonderettes: Glee Club Edition, as well as the Winter Wonderettes. Inspired by the girl-groups of the 1950’s and 60’s, the Wonderettes present a musical journey that is really fun to watch. The holiday rendition of this group features standards such as “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” and “Run, Rudolph, Run,” as well as obscure works like “We Wanna See Santa Do the Mambo,” and “Christmas Will Be Just Another Lovely Day,” The music also bring an international song and dance flare to the show with tunes such as “Oh Tannenbaum.”
Live musicians for this show, Douglas C. Wilson (Conductor/keyboards,)Michael Cundri, (piano) Joseph Sexson, (drums) and Marypaz Holguin, (bass/saxophone) provided a wonderful, festive ambiance.
The Winter Wonderettes is running December 3-23, 2021, and is highly recommended for audiences of all ages. If you want to feel that holiday spirt, this is the show to see.
Desert Theatreworks, is located at the Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo St, Indio, CA
For show and ticket information please visit www.dtworks.org
Dee Jae Cox, is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project
And Co-Creator of the Palm Springs Theatre Go-To Guide,