MOUNT CARROLL – An extraordinary season of talent and direction has whizzed by all too soon.
The last show, “Shout! The Mod Musical,” opened Thursday evening with a rousing rhythm, an appropriate closing production before the stage at Timber Lake Playhouse goes silent for this season.
Gone are the extravaganzas of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “An Inspector Calls,” “Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein,” “Rumors” and “Les Miserables.”
While the TLP campus is comparatively quiet as large casts depart, "Shout!" is anything but quiet. Five women take a nostalgic tour via London of classic ’60s songs that describe the social mania of the times.
“Goldfinger,” “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” and “Those Were The Days (My Friend)” are some songs in the medley performed by color-coded singers Daryn Harrell (Yellow Girl), Allison Hunt (Green Girl), Caroline Murrah (Red Girl), Lexie Plath (Blue Girl) and Melissa Weyn (Orange Girl).
The off-Broadway original directed by Phillip George and choreographed by David Lowenstein follows five women of different ages as they navigate through life in search of answers to myriad relationship problems. Between love-sick advice and retro beats, the revue takes on a rousing rhythm.
It is fitting that London would be the swinging scene, since it seems to be the initial spark, the cradle of creativity with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the like that took us all by storm.
And about “us,” the era of the show fills the house with mainly gray hairs and bifocals, still joking that, “If you actually remember the ’60s, you weren’t really there!” And thus, when "Shout" covers the hilarity of the sexual revolution, it gets the most laughs from the gray hairs (not for the ears of children).
For TLP, the direction of Courtney Crouse and staging of executive director James Beaudry capture the correct essence to reach these gray hairs. Often, when entire productions of yore are performed by youthful talent of today, it is difficult to capture the fragile aura that separates the past reality from the present reality. Original performers of the musical “Hair” of the ’60s, for instance, had experienced firsthand societal constraints that morphed into societal rebellion. Generations later, today’s already loosened performers don’t share that mindset – a subtle nuance, but vital in the details.
So the Crouse/Beaudry direction seems to capture the girls effectively in that roaring time capsule throughout where hips gyrated in “The Frug,” with Blue Girl Lexie Plath, who also oozed lap dances in “Don’t Sleep in the Subway.” The marijuana scene is ingeniously crafted from giddy to foggy to fantasy.
Yet love was still that awkward self-examination, as poignantly expressed by Orange Girl Melissa Weyn in “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.” Green Girl Allison Hunt most correctly expresses in “Georgie Girl” and “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love” the conflict between weakness of passion and strength of independence, a fitting theme for the era.
Also, straight from the heart of confusion is Yellow Girl Daryn Harrell in “I Don’t Know What To Do” as she searches within. Red Girl Caroline Murrah pulses, “Those Were The Days (My Friend),” which initiates the crescendo where the cast and audience reminisce alike into one big celebration of joyous voices, joyous times.
Second Act color codes were certified Go-Go boots, an enterprising accomplishment by costume staff Emma Crafton, Kathleen Embrey and Corina Walbert. Music by Cindy Blanc has a familiar pulsing and steady heartbeat, much like fans of the era felt.
“Shout! The Mod Musical” at Timber Lake Playhouse, 8215 Black Oak Road, Mount Carroll. will be staged Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with one 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Aug. 16, and 2 p.m. matinees August 17, 20 and 24. Group rates are available. Contact the box office at (815) 244-2035 or www.timberlakeplayhouse.org for more information.