It would be an oversimplification to say that “Winter Wonderettes” is the best holiday musical revue set in a hardware store that I have ever seen. That would not be fair to the production. In fact, “Winter Wonderettes” has a tight collection of well-known and not-well-known holiday songs woven into a loose dramatic structure. It is the holiday offering at Bay Village’s Huntington Playhouse.
We of the audience are guests at the Harper’s Hardware Holiday Party. Some of us are employees and others are top clients. It’s the 1960s, and Mr. Harper asked Betty Jean in Corporate Sales to put together a holiday show for us. She and her three friends entertain us in this briskly paced, 90-minute show. I won’t spoil things too much by saying that Mr. Harper, who usually plays Santa – and distributes employees’ bonus checks – is nowhere to be found.
Huntington’s production, an area premiere, is directed by Tom Meyrose. He has a strong cast of four female singers. Holly Feiler is an animated Betty Jean. Flustered that she “always gets the dumb songs,” in an international Christmas Medley, she grunts out “O Tannenbaum” in harsh German. Victoria DehMalo as the “sexy” Cindy Lou leads the ladies through “Santa Do the Mambo.” Pregnant Suzy is perpetually optimistic and especially ingratiating in the show’s second half, which employs some audience participation. She will stir your memory when she sings “Suzie Snowflake.” Completing the cast is Alicia Fogal as Missy.
Together, the ladies’ best moment is with a lesser-known ballad, “Snowfall.” The perfect harmonies and haunting melody combine perfectly. “Winter Wonderetts” features 25 songs. Some of the popular songs’ words are changed, with not much success. Sadly, this is most pronounced in the show’s finale. There are lots of positives, however.
Jessica Atwood has simple, appealing choreography. The beautiful voices are backed with a musical trio, led by Heidi Herczeg, which is placed behind the hardware store’s sales counter. The small audience on the night I attended enjoyed participating in a “find the elf” contest, singing in a bells medley and laughing at the goofy, thin dialogue. “Winter Wonderettes” is a fun night, and the show ends early enough that you can have a late dinner, snack or drinks. It runs through Dec. 16.