‘Wonderettes’ rocks Pendragon stage

Pendragon Theatre’s ‘Marvelous Wonderettes’ kicks off summer season

Julia Feinberg (Suzy), Hannah-Kathryn Wall (Missy), Miranda Macasero (Cindy Lou) and Kelly McCarty (Betty Jean) sing on stage during a dress rehearsal for “The Marvelous Wonderettes” at Pendragon Theatre Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Galen Halasz)

SARANAC LAKE — Pendragon Theatre’s latest show, “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” aims to give audiences a marvelous dose of nostalgia with vocal and theatrical performances by professional performers Julia Feinberg, Miranda Macasero, Kelly McCarty and Hannah-Kathryn Wall.

The Pendragon’s take on this jukebox musical transports the audience through the hits of the 1950s and 1960s, giving new life to songs by Karen Chandler, Patti Page, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin and more onstage in Saranac Lake this month.

The show will run from July 9 to July 21 at 7 p.m., with a few matinees at 2 p.m., according to Artistic Producer Sarah Norris.

The show starts in the 1950s with four girls on their prom night and then jumps ahead 10 years to the 1960s for the second act, when the girls, now grown women, have their 10-year high school reunion.

Norris said Pendragon chose to put on this show because they wanted to do “something fun for the summertime.”

Miranda Macasero sings during dress rehearsal for “The Marvelous Wonderettes” at Pendragon Theatre Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Galen Halasz)

“Audiences can recognize the songs and sing along and dance and feel good,” she said. “It’s a show about sisterhood and friendship and it felt like a really good summer show to cool off from the heat.”

Wall and McCarty had been featuring in plays at the Pendragon for a number of summers, with Wall also directing children in Camp Pendragon for her third summer. Feinberg and Macasero are both at Pendragon for the first time. Despite half of the cast being new, Norris said they have great chemistry together, which is clear from watching the way they build off each other’s energy on stage.

All four cast members are professional performers, all coming from different backgrounds in theater. Wall, McCarty and Feinberg have all performed in notable productions off-Broadway, while Macasero is a rising BFA Musical Theater senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Norris said they reached out to these actors in a couple of different ways. For the returners, they directly offered a part.

“We know how wonderful they are and the audiences up here love them, so we direct-offered them to come back, hoping that they would. And they did,” she said.

Hannah-Kathryn Wall (Missy) and Julia Feinberg (Suzy) perform during dress rehearsal. (Enterprise photo — Galen Halasz)

Norris said they connected with the newcomers by advertising the show through theater job sites online, such as Playbill, and through their networks. Sometimes people will recommend friends and colleagues as well. Then theater staff held auditions for the actors who showed interest, having them send videos of themselves singing and acting. Director and Choreographer Jessica Wagner reviewed the submissions to determine who they chose to offered the parts to, according to Norris. She said they needed to chose “the right team, the right chemistry, the right performers for the job” and that Wagner did great making that happen.

Norris said her role as artistic producer is to help the directors put together the cast and design team and planning seasons of shows to figure out “what an exciting season might be.”

Norris hailed Pendragon’s design team as valuable to making the production happen. Like the cast, some are newer to Pendragon while others are returning artists and designers, but she said they have put together “a really beautiful team effort.” Many local volunteers have been a part of helping out with the production, preparing costumes and props for the show.

Prom decorations are set up in the theater lobby, and anyone who comes to see the show dressed as though they are going to prom will get a dollar off of their drinks at the bar, according to Norris. There is a tasseled arch in one corner of the lobby where people can take their “prom pictures” and the theater will be giving out goodie bags.

“We just want it to be a really fun experience,” Norris said.

Kelly McCarty (Betty Jean) sings during dress rehearsal Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Galen Halasz)

Norris said her favorite thing about the show is the music.

“They’re songs I grew up with, and I think the four actors can sing, and they really bring the songs to life in an exciting way,” she said. “I think the designers have really done a great job of just making us feel like we’re in the (1950s) and the (1960s).”

She said that having a live band to back up the singing was exciting. Many of the band members are local, except for Hawkins Davis Gardow, the keyboardist and conductor, who is here for his second summer.

Wagner said what she loved about this production was the show is “the whole show.”

“It’s a really nice overview of (1950s) and (1960s) popular music, and it’s so much fun. My favorite part of the show would have to be any part where the gals are just having a blast together. … When they’re all there, just cracking up and cracking up the audience, it’s just such a joy to watch,” she said.

Miranda Macasero (Cindy Lou), Kelly McCarty (Betty Jean), Hannah-Kathryn Wall (Missy) and Julia Feinberg (Suzy) rehearse a scene for “The Marvelous Wonderettes” at Pendragon Theatre Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Galen Halasz)

Wagner acted in a few shows at Pendragon before coming taking on her current directorial role, first for the Muppet Cabaret, and now for this show. This is her third year coming back to work with Pendragon. She said that she loves it here.

Wall, who plays Missy, said she likes doing everything that has to go into a successful production, but her favorite moments are whenever the cast is having fun with each other.

“It’s honestly the process of putting the show together, and then when we’re on stage we get this natural rhythm with each other, looking at little things, always trying to connect,” she said. “But favorite moments for me are the moments I get to sit back and watch them all. It’s always really nice, like ‘Aw, look at them go, they’re doing good!'”

Like Wagner, the actors said they love coming to Saranac Lake.

“I love to see a tree,” Feinberg, who plays Suzy, joked.

Julia Feinberg (Suzy) strikes a pose during dress rehearsal for “The Marvelous Wonderettes” at Pendragon Theatre Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Galen Halasz)

“This is also the sweetest and most supportive community I’ve been to in a while,” Macasero, who plays Cindy Lou, added.

Coming up at Pendragon this summer will be Camp Pendragon’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” from Aug. 8-18 and “A Moveable Feast Reading Series,” which will be hosted at the Lake Clear Lodge and Resort, the Sunset Bistro at Ampersand Bay Resort, The Garagery and the Bluseed Pavilion. The return of Pendragon’s Winter Carnival show, “Guys and Does” will be Aug. 1-2 and a new play called “Tracks” by Paula Stanic will show Sept. 3-7. Stanic will be coming to Pendragon from London to be there while the workshop her script before Pendragon premiers the show off-Broadway in New York City.


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