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Daniel Thomas on directing “Marvelous Wonderettes”

September 30, 2011

Roger Bean’s The Marvelous Wonderettes concludes its run Sunday at The Candlelight Pavilion inClaremont. Four women reunite a decade after their high school graduation and test the bonds of friendship. Along the way they sing some of the top hits of the 1950s and ‘60s.

The show’s musical director, Allen Everman, recently performed in Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years on the same stage in a one-night gala for Inland Valley Repertory Theatre. IVRT makes regular mid-week use of Candlelight’s facilities.

Daniel Thomas

Daniel Thomas directs Wonderettes. “I’m drawn to people singing four part harmony. It’s something I grew up doing and still do. And I love this show because it’s about friendship. And in the end, it’s their friendship that keeps them together and keeps them going. In small groups, the ones with long friendships do best.”

Thomas knows the show well. A musician himself, he has played the score in the pit at Musical Theatre West inLong Beachand for McCoy Rigby inLa Mirada.

Casting, he says, was not the greatest challenge. He found in Katie Deshan, Hilary Meiberger, Colette Peters and Jennifer Strattan extensive musical theater experience. The greater difficulty was getting these women in their mid to late 20s to relate to 1958. “It’s a foreign world to them, just in the way people carry themselves and patterns of speech, so getting them immersed was something we had to work hard on.”

With Jenn Aedo as choreographer, Thomas focused on the interludes between songs. “That’s where we had to get the acting moments and the connections between the characters.”

Aedo and Thomas had taken in the show at the El Portal Theatre five years ago. “Jenn was able to walk in with a mostly clean slate. She would come in every day and show the girls various dances like the Madison, the Twist, and how we’d incorporate them into each song. It’s not a dance show per se but it is heavily choreographed. I think she did a really lovely job crafting those. She made it very period without overwhelming the singers.”

The show closes Sunday. (Video trailer.) Thomas is currently music directing Guys and Dolls at the Norris Theatre and will music direct Winter Wonderettes for Musical Theatre West and Fannie for Musical Theatre Guild in November.

Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre 455 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont, CA 91711. 909-626-1254 EXT. 1 for tickets. Information on meal seating and show times here

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