Naples Players get in the swing of things with 'Shout! The Mod Musical'

Scott McIntyre / Staff
The Naples Players take the stage during the opening act of their dress rehearsal of, 'Shout! The Mod Musical', At Sugden Community Theater on Thursday Sept. 27.

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Scott McIntyre / Staff The Naples Players take the stage during the opening act of their dress rehearsal of, "Shout! The Mod Musical", At Sugden Community Theater on Thursday Sept. 27.

When the lights go down in Sugden Community Theatre, a rainbow emerges from the dark.These are the colors of London in the swinging '60s and the vast spectrum of women who made the city their home. Innocent Red is just finding her way in the world. Blue boasts plenty of '60s style, but her personality leaves much to be desired. Yellow is visiting from America and determined to find fun — and maybe a Beatle to boot. Orange is older and still looking for love. And Green? Well, she certainly never has a problem finding love.

"Shout! The Mod Musical" tells their stories through the songs of the decade. The score includes such hits as Petula Clark's "Downtown," Dusty Springfield's "Wishin' and Hopin' " and Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walkin.' " Originally produced as an off-Broadway show in 2006, "Shout" is presented by the Naples Players through Saturday, Oct. 27.

"Shout!" director and choreographer Dawn Lebrecht-Fornara believes many audience members will attend the show expecting a lightweight musical revue. What they'll find is something much more, she said.

"It's more of a journey," she said. "To me, it's about women finding their independence and feminism in the '60s."

The show handles such significant themes, and it manages to do so with laughs, she said.

In the musical, "Shout" is also the name of a magazine that all the women read regularly. The magazine features an advice columnist named Gwendolyn Holmes. Rather than giving the women helpful advice about their lives, Holmes often counsels the women in frivolous ways, such as by telling them that their problems could best be handled by a trip to the beauty salon.

If you go

‘SHOUT! THE MOD MUSICAL’

What: A swinging '60s musical presented by the Naples Players

When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinee Sundays, Oct. 3-27

Where: Blackburn Hall at Sugden Community Theatre, 701 Fifth Ave. S., Naples

Cost: $35, adults; $10, children 18 and younger

Information: 239-263-7990 or www.naplesplayers.org

The show also includes short monologues and comedic interludes styled after the popular '60s sketch show "Laugh-In."

"I love the comedy of this," Lebrecht-Fornara said. "It's unadulterated energy."

Some of that energy comes from the fast pace of the staging and script. Originally written without an intermission, one was added for the Naples Players' performance.

"It's nonstop," said Jasmine Vizena, who plays Yellow. "There's really no break."

Such a pace presents a special challenge in this particular musical, which requires the cast members to be on stage performing almost all the time.

"This is a lot of work for only five girls," said Carol Smith, the hair and makeup designer for Sugden Community Theatre. "It's constant costume changes. It's wig changes. But it's all very cool when you see it on stage."

As compared to other period shows that the Naples Players have produced, "Shout!" is more complicated, Smith said. In those shows, the characters may change only once; in "Shout!" the women change costumes four times. And since this is the 1960s, expect to see miniskirts, bell-bottoms and lots and lots of vinyl go-go boots.

But the changes are necessary, Smith said. "Shout!" spans one of the most turbulent decades in recent memory.

"This specific period has to go through changes, because it went through so many changes," she said.

Just as the costumes change, so too do the women. As "Shout!" starts, Red is young and a bit naive; by the end of the play, she has morphed into a hippie. Green begins the musical as a woman who is enjoying the sexual freedom of the '60s, but by the play's close, she has chosen a more traditional route.

Although their relationships with men may change throughout the show, what stays steady is the women's relationship with each other.

"We all sort of transform throughout the show, but at the end, we all realize how much our friendship means to each other," Vizena said.

As the only character who hails from America, Vizena was not tasked with learning a British accent. To help, the cast worked with local dialect coach Julie Broadhurst. Even with assistance, the accent was still the most difficult part for Alyssa Haney, who plays posh, privileged Blue.

"For me, the accent was the biggest challenge for sure," Haney said.

Then there was putting music and dance together. "Shout!" is full of four- and five-part harmonies for the cast to perform while dancing. But that's one place where the evolving style of the swinging '60s worked to the cast's favor, noted Debi Guthery, who plays the slightly risqué Green.

"At least I'm not having to wear a corset, like the last show," joked Guthery, who played the title role in the Naples Players' production of "Hello, Dolly!" earlier this year.

Getting to perform her favorite '60s songs was pretty groovy, too.

"I've loved these songs for years, and I get to sing in almost every song," Guthery said.

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