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Enjoy The Swinging 1960s With "Shout! The Mod Musical" At Springfield Little Theatre

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(Poster design courtesy Springfield Little Theatre)
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Josh Inman from Springfield Little Theatre joined us live in the studio on “Arts News” this morning to talk about SLT’s new production which opened last night, and is scheduled for a a two-week run at the Landers Theatre, 311 E. Walnut: the off-Broadway hit “Shout! The Mod Musical.”                                                                

“Yeah, we opened last night to a great crowd,” said Inmon, who directs the production. “By the end, they were dancing in their seats, and everybody was having fun singing along”—while staying socially distanced, of course!

Inmon described “Shout! The Mod Musical” as an off-Broadway show that debuted in 2006. “It's the story of five women who come of age in the 1960s and kind of discover themselves. And you see their journey going along. But the real star of the show is the music, the 60s music that, whether you you were alive in that era or not, everybody loves that music.”

These five young women all live in London during the “swinging 60s,” a scene probably more glamorous than anywhere else in the world at the time. “And the costumes and the set are reflective of that,” said Josh Inmon. “We have a huge pink shag-covered carpet platform, which is wonderful. And the costumes, designed by Philip Heckman, are just incredible. You know, they're a star of the show—they are in their own right.”

The musical derives its name from a fictional magazine for teen girls called “Shout!” According to Inmon, “these women write in for advice. And sometimes it's hilarious, the answers they get; sometimes it's heartwarming. So it's told through the lens of that. But again, an excuse to sing this wonderful, wonderful music.”

The five girls are just random pop-music fans in London in the mid- to late 1960s, although they do interact with each other a bit, said Inmon. “Also, we don't necessarily know the characters’ names. They're defined as the color that they wear. So we have Red Girl, Green Girl, Blue, Orange and Yellow. It’s kind of their own isolated journey.”  In Little Theatre’s production, they’re played by Aryn Bohannon (Red Girl); Emma Grace Puerta (Green Girl); Austen McGranahan (Blue Girl); Ashley Rose Smith (Orange Girl); and Callie Altpeter (Yellow Girl).

“Shout! The Mod Musical” is almost more a musical revue than a “story” musical. “And it's 90 minutes straight through,” said Josh Inmon. “No intermission. Again, just about 25 of those incredible 60s songs.” Songs such as “These Boots are Made for Walkin’,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “I Only Want To Be With You.”  So Dusty Springfield’s songs are well represented here. “We also have, of course, ‘Downtown,’ a little bit of Twiggy… anything you like from that era is going to be in there,” added Inmon. 

There is no instrumental ensemble for this show, due to social distancing. “We’re using (pre-recorded) tracks simply because it's safer to do so in this in this COVID era. But it's actually the original off-Broadway orchestra (that) you'll hear. And of course, these five these five women are incredible. Their voices are wonderful. And you're guaranteed to have a good time.”

Following last night’s opening, “Shout! The Mod Musical” runs through Sunday March 7 at the Landers Theatre: Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm, with afternoon matinees at 2:00pm Saturdays and Sundays. If you want to attend the live performances at the theater, tickets are $34 for adults and $24 for kids ages 12 and under. Seating is restricted to 150 persons at each performance, or about 25 percent of the Landers’ normal capacity of 550. If patrons prefer, they can live-stream each performance in the comfort and safety of their own homes for $34.00. “We have a multi-camera (video) setup,” said Inmon. “It’s not just one camera that we put in the back of the house. It's a full operation. So if you stream the show, it's like you're watching a TV show or movie.” 

There probably hasn’t been a multiple-camera video setup in the Landers since “Five-Star Jubilee,” NBC-TV’s successor to “Ozarks Jubilee/Jubilee U.S.A.” It had a brief network run on NBC from March to September 1961, telecast live from the Landers—and in color, the first weekly network show to originate in color from a venue outside New York or Hollywood. (The original “Jubilee” was telecast from the now-defunct Jewell Theatre on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Springfield from 1955 to 1960 on ABC-TV.)

Whether you stream “Shout!” or attend in person at the Landers, you’re helping support the local arts, said Josh Inmon. “The best thing you can do right now for these arts organizations is to buy a ticket, support us that way, or tell your friends—share on social media.  And we appreciate it.”

For ticket information, visit https://www.springfieldlittletheatre.org, or call the Landers box office at (417) 869-1334.

 

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning "Arts News." Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's "Ozzie Award" in 2006.