If you liked the movie Beach Blanket Bingo (did anyone really like that movie?), then chances are you will enjoy The Bikinis: A Retro Beach Party now playing at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven.
If the quartet of female singers on stage actually left out the nonsensical script and performed the songs from the fifties and sixties, at least it would be a mediocre musical revue. As it is, an amateurish attempt to connect songs to a storyline about saving a mobile home beach resort in New Jersey becomes an unwelcomed distraction from some oldies.
Mind you, these songs are oldies, but not all are goodies.
While those who enjoy the songs of yesteryear like Mama Said/Shop Around, It’s In His Kiss, These Boots Are Made for Walkin,’ and Where the Boys Are will have plenty to enjoy in the first act, songs like Incense and Peppermints, Psychedelic Bikini, and Shakin’ in the Sand in the second act are far more forgettable.
Actually, this revue focuses on a group that really did exist, called The Bikinis. Their biggest claim to fame was that they made a 45 recording of their song In My Bikini, which was played on their local radio station. It never amounted to much more. Nonetheless, Ray Roderick and James Hindman, who created and wrote this show tried to connect the “itsy bitsy” dots on the no-hit wonders, The Bikinis. Even though they mention several times that they are the “Jersey Girls” as if that somehow puts them in the same category as the “Jersey Boys,” no one in the audience bought into it or made the association.
This is an Equity professional production. The four women who are stuck in these roles, do the best they can. Though they don’t have that star quality, they all have good voices and act well. Their credentials are impressive.
Directed and choreographed by Ray Roderick with Dan Pardo as musical director, the show features a minimal set and rather cheesy-looking costume accessories. Don’t expect to see four bikini-clad gals open the show. The women appear in black tops and bottoms and accessorize with everything from imitation leis to scarves of bright colors. Marinda Anderson plays Barbara and seemed less confident in her role than the others, but she has a strong voice and performed well. Lori Hammel as Jodi does a great job with Elvis and consistently steps up to the plate to deliver the goods. Karyn Quakenbush as Karla is miniature dynamite and Natalie Toro comes off rough and ready. All four singers have strong Broadway backgrounds. The set is minimal with summer color boards and cabanas. Unfortunately, the play is not the thing here.
The Bikinis plays through July 31. Box office: 203-787-4282.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]