“Birthdays are the one day of the year when you know everything is gonna be just fine.” – Cindy
The universe apparently didn’t get the notification of Cindy’s birthday. On her big day, the postman (Tyler Ruebensaal, in a nice tight shorts-clad body) brings the poor little 20-something laundromat manager (Sarah Errington) word that her cat just died and her penpal boyfriend has dumped her for a girl with better penmanship.
She’s distraught, but her hilarious suicide attempt (death by agitator) is cut short by the intervention of not one but two guardian angels: Marge (Rae K. Henderson) – with an outrageous flaming-red wig and a sassy mouth – and angel-in-training Dee Dee (Bethany Slomka), perky, sweet and upbeat.
It’s San Diego’s own homegrown jukebox musical “Suds,” which began at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, went on to The Old Globe in 1988 and has been packing ‘em in elsewhere ever since. The latest incarnation of the Steve Gunderson-Melinda Gilb-Bryan Scott show is on view through Sept. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad, and it’s a winner.
Incorporating about 50 of the greatest hits from the ’60s wrapped around a slight but amusing plot about love and loss in the laundromat, “Suds” will have you clapping, tapping and maybe even singing (though I wouldn’t advise that unless you have prior permission from seatmates).
The girls have a terrific blend on old favorites like “Walk on By” and “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’” and “Respect,” but they really shine on solos like Marge’s “Always Something There to Remind Me” and Dede’s anthem to independence, “You Don’t Own Me.”
Errington is adorable as the hopeful-but-sad sack Cindy, and knows her way around a classic like “Mr. Postman” or “Where the Boys Are.”
But what’s a laundromat without customers? Almost as lonely as Cindy, so the playwrights have thoughtfully provided one – Mrs. Halo (Ruebensaal), in baggy housedress and curlers, lugging a basket of fluff-and-fold laundry.
Later Ruebensaal will appear as several potential dates, from nerdy pocket protector salesman Milt Dudman to dreamboat Johnny ... who gives Slomka’s Dede a chance to stop the show with her smashing rendition of “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry.”
Velasco’s witty direction and choreography keep the giggles coming. The show looks good, too, with a funny set, great costumes by Jennifer Mah and Chris Renda’s fine lighting.
If you’re looking for profundity, this isn’t it. But for a fun evening of summer entertainment, “Suds” is hard to beat.
“Suds: The Rocking ’60s Musical Soap Opera” plays through Sept. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre, 2787 State St. in Carlsbad.
Thursday and Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.
Tickets: (760) 433-3245 or HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.