Carlsbad, CA—I know I’m a sucker for ‘50’s and ‘60’s music; big bands, solo singers and lyrics you can actually understand. Granted some may be a little corny, but the tunes are catchy and you can sing along and know that you might be feeling the same sentiments as, say the crooner with the mike.
“Suds The Musical”, now in an honest to goodness ‘swell’ production at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad through Sept. 1st, is dubbed a jukebox musical, and features at least eighteen familiar ’60’s tunes in Act I and about the same in Act II.
Stretch your memory and see if your feet don’t start tapping and shoulders swaying to “Please Mr. Postman”, “Locomotion”, a Burt Bacharach/Hal David medley, “Wonderful, Wonderful”, “Respect”, “Town Without Pity”, “I Will Follow Him”, “Johnny Angel” “Do You Want To Know a Secret” and “We Can Work It Out” to name a few. Honestly, for once I knew every tune the four member cast sang.
“Suds The Rocking 60’s Musical Soap Opera” was conceived and written by local writers Steve Gunderson (who did the music and vocal arrangements for this production) and Melinda Gilb (who used her mother, Marge as the model for Marge in the show), Will Robertson and Bryan Scott. When it débuted at the Old Globe in 1984, it went on to break box office records at The Old Globe.
From the Globe it moved Off-Broadway and continued to be produced all over the US, Canada and Australia. It has been produced in San Diego more times and in more venues than this memory permits.
The story, feeble as it might be, drives the songs and lo and behold! a musical is born and celebrated in, none other than the local Suds Washerama Laundromat.
Cindy, no last names here, (Sarah Errington) is celebrating her birthday. At work in Suds, she starts off her day by turning the radio on but hears nothing but bad news. The mailman delivers a letter to her from her pen pal boyfriend who has decided to break off their relationship for someone with better penmanship (she thought it was a birthday card), her cat is run over by a corvette and because of some fluke in the tax law, she owes the IRS oodles of back taxes. In short, Cindy is having a really lousy day.
Sarah Errington’s, starry eyed, clueless and ‘gawky’ Cindy is just going about her business keeping everything in order at the Laundromat, but try as she may and desperate from her bad birthday day, sees no way out of her gloom and doom news but to strangle herself with a pair of stretch Capri’s wrapped from around her neck to the washing machine’s agitator. (Yup this is as serious as it gets)
But wait. Help is on the way in the shape of two guardian angels. The excellent Rae K. Henderson brings Marge, the real tough cookie, to life. She is donning an astonishingly 60’s bright red wig and copping an attitude as the seasoned angel who has already earned her wings. Her rendition of “Respect” brought the house down on opening night. She is a sassy and commanding in charge gal. Henderson has the just the right amount of heft to pull it off.
Overly enthusiastic De De (Bethany Slomka) is the apprentice, still in training to get her wings. Their job is to talk Cindy out of suicide and make her whole again by any means possible. Hopefully they will also find a new love for Cindy.
Slomka, who starred as Tracy in “Hairspray” a few years also, earned her wings among local audiences with her million-dollar smile, powerful chops, perfect comic timing and more charisma than one person is entitled to. She’s bouncy, spry and perfect for the role of De De.
Between the three singing and dancing, the music rocks, rolls and glides through the entire thirty odd songs without a hitch. Versatile Tyler Ruebensaal plays the postman, the washer repairman, Milt Dudman, Johnny Angel, Mrs. Halo and Mr. Right. He comes and goes in and out of the Laundromat as well as Cindy’s life. He’s a perfect balance and is talented, charming and just what Cindy needs.
Director/ choreographer Javier Velasco, (who was responsible for the original staging and choreography of “Suds” way back then), has assembled an energetic and well-rounded cast of characters who are giving it their all in this absolutely rousing, fun filled and whirlwind musical production.
Rounding out the look, sound and feel Jennifer Mah’s perfect period costumes especially her gorgeous sequenced gowns are eye poppers. Chris Renda’s lighting, Garrett Wysocki’s sound design (Justin Gray is musical director) and properties by Pat Hansen give the show both a combination of glitter and bland. The rented sets, washers and dryers, et al. are standard “Suds” props.
Let’s face it. This is and always has been, one heck of an entertaining and fun show. Go for it!
See you at the theatre.
Dates: through Sept.1st
Organization: New Village Arts
Production Type: Musical Comedy
Where: 2787 State Street, Carlsbad, CA
Ticket Prices: $32.00-$35.00