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‘The Winter Wondrettes’ holiday show to take the stage

Rehearsing for Fox Valley Repertory’s production of “The Winter Wonderettes” are (from left) Nicole Horton (Betty Jean), Kristine Burdi (Missy), Katrina Kuntz (Suzy) and Natalie Myre (Cindy Lou).
Rehearsing for Fox Valley Repertory’s production of “The Winter Wonderettes” are (from left) Nicole Horton (Betty Jean), Kristine Burdi (Missy), Katrina Kuntz (Suzy) and Natalie Myre (Cindy Lou).

Fox Valley Repertory will deliver an early Christmas gift to local theater audiences with its production of Roger Bean’s nostalgic holiday show, “The Winter Wonderettes,” running Nov. 15-Dec. 30 at Pheasant Run Resort.

It’s a sprightly sequel to another of Bean’s popular jukebox-musical works, “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” The same four female singers who entertained at the Springfield High School Senior Prom of 1958 and then at the 10-year class reunion now return to liven things up at the Harper’s Hardware 1968 holiday party.

Expect to hear “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Sleigh Ride” and nearly 20 other numbers in keeping with the season. There’s also an irreverent “Christmas Around the World” section.

“‘The Winter Wonderettes’ is very funny and family-friendly – just not always politically correct,” said Patrick Stinson, director and choreographer. “It features all the great Christmas songs of the ’50s and ’60s presented by a talented quartet that sings, dances and at times makes fools of themselves.”

Stinson expressed strong support for his cast – Kristine Burdi, as Missy, the ringleader; Katrina Kuntz, as Suzy, the fun blonde; Natalie Myre, as the vixen, Cindy Lou; and Nicole Horton, as Betty Jean.

“All of them have either understudied or actually been in this or the original version of the show. They know their characters well, and everyone’s catching on fast learning the music and movements,” he said. “There’s a lot going on, and these four actors prove equally adept at comic flair and harmony.”

Admittedly, Stinson said, while “The Winter Wonderettes” doesn’t carry as heady a message as “A Christmas Carol,” there’s definitely more than fluff to its storyline. He noted that when employees at the hardware store get a pink slip instead of the expected Christmas bonus, it conveys the message of tough financial times – back then and in the current economy.

The show also highlights how its four characters have matured over the years as they deal with real-world issues involving marriage and children and cope with a sluggish job market.

Another of Stinson’s goals is that “The Winter Wonderettes” helps audiences to tap into “a feeling of nostalgia ... what Christmas was like when they were kids” – whether they grew up during the ’60s or not. “Our costume, set, props and lighting designers are all working together to create that environment,” he said.

Chicago-born Stinson recently moved to Lincoln, N.H., where he is executive director for North Country Center for the Arts – Papermill Theatre. He last directed Fox Valley Repertory’s youth group a year ago in “All Shook Up.”

‘The Winter Wonderettes’

When: Preview show is Nov. 15 and 16. The regular show will run Nov. 17 through Dec. 30.
Where: Fox Valley Repertory at Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles
Cost: Tickets cost $32 on Fridays (and limited Thursday performances) and $42 on Saturdays and Sundays.
Phone: 630-584-6342

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