In a time when live theater is hard to come by, a performance of “The Winter Wonderettes” brought Christmas cheer to a full but socially distanced audience at Cedar High School on Dec. 10.
The musical is a spinoff of the off-Broadway hit “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” by Roger Bean, featuring a quartet of singers who began performing together in high school.
In this holiday version, the audience members become the employees of Harper’s Hardware as the Wonderettes (Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy) provide their entertainment for the 1968 ‘Harper’s Hardware holiday Christmas party.’ When Santa turns up missing, the now 28-year-old girls use their talent and creative ingenuity to save the holiday party through song.
Not only did the audience react to the reimagined renditions of holiday favorites such as “Winter Wonderland” and “Santa Baby,” but the lights reacted as well. With Suzy’s husband Richie supposedly running the lightboard, blackouts, flickers and disco lights were given as response to quips from Suzy throughout the show.
Produced by Iron Stage Theatrical, a local theater group, the show was chosen and created cautiously because of the pandemic. But everyone involved with the production recognized the need for live performance during this unprecedented and unique Christmas season.
“We have had a terrible year. If we, as a creative team, can bring some happiness to our community through our art, then we must, regardless of restrictions that may be in place,” said Madison Day, who played the role of Cindy Lou in the show. Day is also a senior in the Southern Utah University nursing program.
The actresses and producers found new ways of connecting with the audience while abiding by restrictions, wearing giant rubber gloves and a mask when entering the crowd and mentioning the pandemic with lighthearted humor.
“This show was selected for the sole reason of having only four cast members, so we could easily socially distance ourselves throughout the rehearsal and performance process…we wore masks until about one week ago during our rehearsals, and wear masks if we are off stage for any period of time,” Day said.
The performers had to overcome other unique and difficult challenges for this show to go on, including working around a busy nursing school schedule for Day. Nevertheless, the performers were undeterred. This first live theater production in over two months in Cedar City earned a standing ovation.
“It is definitely difficult to act with a mask, because so much of theatre is reacting to your fellow actors’ reactions,” Day said. “It has kept us safe…I am so glad that we have the ability to perform live at all.”
“The Winter Wonderettes” will be performed again on Dec. 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. in the Cedar High School Auditorium (703 W. 600 S. Cedar City). Tickets are $8 for general admission. Masks, temperature checks and social distancing will be required. Visit the Iron Stage Theatrical website for more information and ticket purchase.
Story By: Larissa Beatty