By Michall Jeffers
If Mama Mia and Jersey Boys had a baby, she would probably be a whole lot like The Bikinis. This is a show that rocks on, featuring one catchy golden oldie after another. A one-hit wonder girl group back in the day, Jodi (Joanna Young), her sister Annie (Katy Blake), their cousin Karla (Karyn Quackenbush), and best friend Barbara (Anne Fraser Thomas) have come together again for a cause. There’s an attempt to turn their old stomping grounds into condos, and residents of the Sandy Shore Mobile Beach Resort are being offered big money to comply. Of course, the women want to keep things as they were; but do they all agree?
With a background of striped cabanas, strung multi-colored lights, and a fence strewn with towels and bags, the group members line up to four onstage mics and start to banter with the audience. They’re backed up by a small onstage band, as they talk on their princess phone, take on various characters (Elvis, Annette), and reminisce about the boys they’ve known. Oh, that lifeguard 23, and the hot times that were had “Under The Boardwalk.” After all, the girls were there because the Jersey shore beach is “Where The Boys Are.” Throughout the medley, the actors keep their energy high, and their sense of fun permeates the theater. Costumes are minimal. Over their black T-shirts and pants, they don brightly hued striped shirts, black vests, and shiny waistcoats. There are long white gloves, and silver strap heels. Not only do they sing nonstop, they also dance the styles of the day. The Twist, Freddy, Limbo, Watusi, Pony, Monkey, Chicken…the list goes on.
Ah, to be back at the carousel in Asbury Park in the summer of 1966, with not a care in the world but how to get the money to cut that 45 which would be played on the radio and shoot some lucky kid to stardom. The pull of nostalgia is strong, and the temptation to sing along is even stronger. The Bikinis is very much a family affair; Director/creator Ray Roderick describes himself as “married to Karen Quackenbush (who plays Karla), and proud father of lighting designer Jamie Roderick.” Most fitting. On the screen above the action is a beautiful series of black and white photos of people enjoying themselves at the beach. What a wonderful opportunity to pass on to the younger generations stories of what it was like when sun, sand, and surf made cares melt away, and everyone wished for an endless summer.
The Bikinis, Westchester Broadway Theatre, 1 Broadway Plaza,
Elmsford NY, 10526, 914-592-2222, www.BroadwayTheatre.com
2 hrs, 25 min, includes ½ hour intermission
Through March 19, 2017
Cast: Joanna Young (Jodi), Karyn Quackenbush (Karla), Katy Blake (Annie), Anne Fraser Thomas (Barbara)
Author: Ray Roderick & James Hindman
Music Arrangements: Joseph Baker
Additional music & lyrics: Joseph Baker & Ray Roderick
Director/choreographer: Ray Roderick Musical Director: Dan Pardo,
Lighting Design: Jamie Roderick