By their miniskirts and full-length vinyl boots you shall know them. It's hard to reconcile the relentless celebration in"Shout! The Mod Musical"with female empowerment, particularly when the characters are identified most prominently by the color of their clothes: Orange Girl, Red Girl, Blue Girl, Green Girl and Yellow Girl.
This broadly written _ and performed _ musical revue, which opened Thursday at off-Broadway's Julia Miles Theatre, takes these half-dozen women on a journey from the early, pre-feminist 1960s into the 1970s, following them from giddy teenagers into early adulthood and beyond in a swinging England.
And it does so mostly to British hits of the era, specifically songs sung by such pop divas as Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Shirley Bassey, Cilla Black and more.
Linking the musical numbers are lame dialogue and some rather bad jokes. These interruptions are credited to Peter Charles Morris and Philip George, while the concept _ such as it is _ for the evening goes to George, who directed, and David Lowenstein, who did the spirited, fruggish choreography.
All the women are avid readers of a fab woman's magazine called"Shout!"and its very proper advice columnist named Gwendolyn Holmes (the plummy, prerecorded voice of Carole Shelley).
Holmes dispenses such nuggets of wisdom as:"It is never a mistake to get married"and"While it is true that many men can be selfish in the boudoir, it is also true that the so-called `carnal joys'matter a great deal less to women."
Fortunately, the conversational part of the 90-minute evening is kept to a minimum, allowing the six performers to belt out such classics as"Downtown,""To Sir With Love,""You Don't Have to Say You Love Me,""Don't Sleep in the Subway"and more.
All the women work very hard. Erin Crosby, she's the one in yellow, has the gutsiest voice, and delivers a growling, gritty version of that Dusty Springfield classic,"Son of a Preacher Man."
And Erica Schroeder, the Green Girl, has a sly, subversive sense of humor that transcends the obviousness of her material. She plays the slutty one, so you pretty much know where the humor is going.
It is fun to hear some of the songs again. Two James Bond ditties _ the title songs from"Goldfinger"and the lesser-known"Diamonds Are Forever"_ will reaffirm memories that the only real 007 on film was Sean Connery.
The costumes by Philip Heckman are as effective as the songs in recalling the era when fashion priestess Mary Quant ruled. And designer David Gallo's red, shag-covered carpeting and setting, featuring colorful puffy plastic designs, would have looked right at home on that late'60s TV series"Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In."
But"Shout!"is an odd, high-decibel piece of nostalgia with superficial serious intentions lightly sprinkled into the entertainment. It's not just the minis that come up short.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.