Saturday, December 2, 2023

The Pin-Up Girls - Playhouse on Park

VFW Post 5470 is set to close.  When a group of friends, cleaning out the building, discover a huge cache of letters – spanning from WWI to Afghanistan – they decide to commemorate the heartfelt, sometimes humorous correspondence with a holiday show for veterans at the post based on the writings.  That’s the simple premise behind the charming, jukebox styled musical The Pin-Up Girls. 


Members of the cast of The Pin-Up Girls.  Photo by Meredith Longo.

Leanne (Olivia Fenton), Megan (Maggie Keene), Dana (Hillary Ekwall), and Joel (Christopher Rhodes), along with the exuberant piano accompaniment of Kevin (Musical Director Kevin Barlowski), entertain with a wide-range of songs and associated skits based on snippets of letters read by the cast.  The correspondence beautifully convey sentiments from the front lines as well as back home.  They songs include Irving Berlin’s ditty "Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning" from his 1918 musical revue Yip, Yip, Yaphank; The Andrew Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy;” “Please Mr. Postman;” and even Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”  They are presented in a timeworn VFW hall, artfully rendered by Scenic Designer Lindsay G. Fuori.


Olivia Fenton, members of the cast of The Pin-Up Girls.  Photo by Meredith Longo.

The book and song selections by co-creators James Hindman and Jeffrey Lodin, while entertaining, is an uneven affair, with the comedic and upbeat numbers usually hitting their mark.  Whenever a lull occurs or a sketch doesn’t register, there is usually an engaging scene that quickly follows.  Overall, the 90-minute, intermission-less production does its job - pulling at audience’s heartstrings, arousing pride for the men and women who have served in the armed forces, and generating a twinge of nostalgic wistfulness.

Maggie Keene and Hillary Ekwall from The Pin-Up Girls.  Photo by Meredith Longo.

The performers, under the assured direction of Darlene Zoller, display a wonderful, easygoing chemistry as they act and sing together and in combination.  All four possess superb voices, whether belting or tenderly crooning the over two dozen songs (I do wish a song list was included in the program handed out to audience members or even included in the online version).  Zoller has infused the production with creative staging and a whole lot of schtick.  She utilizes the entire Playhouse on Park performance space to achieve a well-paced musical revue. Stef Carr’s Lighting Design strikingly sets the mood for many of the scenes.  Rachel Landy’s Sound Design handsomely blends the vocal flourishes of the three actresses and two actors.


The Pin-Up Girls, an appealing holiday-time jukebox musical.  Playing at Playhouse on Park through December 19.  Click here for dates, times, and ticket information.

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