'Shout!' offers '60s jukebox on stage
By JOSEPH T. ROZMIAREK
Special to The Advertiser
Like any musical directed by John Rampage for Diamond Head Theatre, "Shout!" has color and energy. But even good voices and the Rampage touch can't make the show more than what it is.
What it is is a jukebox musical — a collection of period songs strung on a minimal plot line or a production concept. Honolulu theater groups have produced better examples of the genre, including "Forever Plaid" and "Always," the Patsy Cline story. "Shout!" clearly displays its paint-by-numbers origins for anybody interested in doing one on their own.
Start with a collection of pop songs from the 1960s — ones that allow baby boomers to hum the tunes and understand the lyrics ("Windy" and "To Sir with Love.") Add a British-centric vibe, with miniskirts, go-go boots, and big hair. Slip in a subliminal hint of women's liberation.
That's it! You've created your own jukebox musical. Just rearrange the pieces so nobody can call you a copy cat and be sure to include an exclamation point in the title to show that it's exciting and fun.
The DHT production gets off to a slow start, but picks up quickly as the five featured singers begin to warm up their stage pipes. Nobody has character names in this show. Instead, they have colors.
Zenia Zambrano Moura (Orange) hits her stride on "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," not just belting, but shaping and coloring the music with real style. Megan Mount (Red) has a strong and lovely, trained voice and a developing flair for physical comedy that gets a workout on "Wishin' and Hopin'."
Vanessa Manuel Mazzullo (Yellow) surprises and entices with a big and jazzy voice coming from a small frame ("Son of A Preacher Man"), while Renee No-veck (Green) and Tricia Marciel (Blue) contribute comedy and contrast to the ensemble. Rampage also uses a back-up chorus of five more women to fill out the DHT stage and give a bigger feel to what is essentially a small musical.
Women's lib awareness creeps into the show with repeat snippets of voice-over product commercials and lovelorn advice — suggesting that a new moisturizer or a perky hairstyle are the answers to all problems.
Interestingly, the strong-est message of liberation comes from costumer Karen Wolfe. For most of the '60s numbers, the women are in cookie-cutter costumes that exist separately from the people who wear them. But late in the show, as the 1970s begin to dawn, they switch to more daring and distinctive clothes that vary widely in style and represent individual and personal growth.
Wolfe saves her big punch for the curtain call, when the cast reappears in full glitter, wearing individually designed outfits that showcase each performer at her personal best.
Set designer Willie Sabel also adds interest with an economical black-and-white grid backdrop that evolves into a Mondrian painting as white rectangles rotate to reveal bright primary colors.
If you find pep rally spirit contagious, "Shout!" may make you want to do just that.