Arts Club Theatre Company

SUDS: The Rockin’ ‘60s Musical Soap Opera
by Melinda Gilb Steve Gunderson & Bryan Scott

Dates 21 June – 4 August 2007, 8pm Venue Granville Island Stage Reviewer John Jane

Time was, when one could plug a dime in the jukebox down at the local ice cream parlour and listen to all the “hits” of the day composed by the greatest tunesmiths in the business. SUDS: The Rocking '60s Musical Soap Opera largely succeeds in taking their audiences back to those innocent times with a hokey, light-hearted celebration of the best (and occasionally worst) sixties popular music.

SUDS takes place in a laundromat and spins (sorry about the bad pun) the story of Cindy, and her three guardian angels, Dee-Dee, Marge and Johnny Angel that help her to get past a severe bout of gloom. It happens to be Cindy’s birthday when the postman, (Matt Palmer in one of his multiple roles) instead of delivering greetings, presents her with three items of bad news that coincidentally all involve a Chevrolet Corvair. I thought it curious that our heroine, on hearing of the death of her cat and the imposition of a $10,000 debt, was most affected by the news that her pen-pal had “signed-off” – but with a goofy revue like SUDS, we shouldn’t be too analytical.

With the show utilizing around four dozen songs in under two hours, there isn’t much time for serious dialogue. However, it’s all very well paced with chuckles as well as the hits just keep on coming. Some of the songs fit in to the storyline perfectly, while others appear shoved in like a clumsy dealer shuffling a well-used pack of cards.

The songs aren’t particularly well sung, but that hardly matters. The cast delivers their numbers with spirit and conviction. The Burt Bacharach medley half way through the first act that features the three girls in close harmony is terrific.

The audience certainly seemed to take this talented cast of Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Seana-Lee Wood, Matt Palmer and Allison MacDonald to their hearts. With the exception of Hosie, who also directed, this is the same foursome that performed in the 2003 production at the Waterfront Theatre.

Sara-Jeanne Hosie is winsome in the role of Cindy, the laundromat manager and also does a stellar job with directing and musical staging. Seana-Lee Wood as Marge and Allison MacDonald as Dee-Dee delightfully play off each other’s diametrically opposed characters. Dee-Dee is a novice angel who wears white bobby-sox and has her head in the clouds. Marge is the cynical, veteran angel; she is wonderfully trashy in a way that is reminiscent of Betty Rizzo in Grease. Matt Palmer shows himself to be incredibly versatile as Johnny Angel, the roller-skating postman and the over-sized washer repairman. He does an absurdly accurate impersonation of James Brown with “I Feel Good.”

Lloyd Nicholson and Sasha Niechoda on Keyboards, plus Phil Belanger on drums provide first rate support throughout. Although, I would like to have heard a little more twang on some of the numbers.

If you are looking for wholesome family entertainment where you can have fun after a stress-filled day, this show is definitely for you.

© 2007 John Jane