Think sun, sand and surf. Think beach, blankets and breezes. Think four girls scantily clad in bikinis who, on a lark, enter a talent contest on the Belmar Beach boardwalk in New Jersey way, way back in 1964 and, surprisingly, win.
Thanks to co-writers Ray Roderick and James Hindman and composer and musical arranger Joe Baker, you’re invited to bring a beach ball to the party at Long Wharf Theatre’s main stage until Sunday, July 31.
If you are the least bit curious about the origin of the miniscule swimwear, it is named for the site of a nuclear weapons test site, the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The barely abbreviated underwear was designed by French engineer Louis Reard in 1946 and it racks up sales to the tune of over $810 million every year.You know the “Jersey Boys,” but now it’s time to make room on stage for the Jersey Girls. The story line, as thin as the beachwear, has four B.F. F.’s (best friends forever)winning the talent show and now desperately wanting to get on the Dick Clark show, American Bandstand. To accomplish that, they need to make a 45 record, at a cost of $875. That’s a lot of bar mitzvahs and wedding receptions!Two teenage sisters from Paramus, Jodi (Lori Hammel) and Annie (Natalie Toro), join forces with their impetuous cousin Karla (Karyn Quackenbush) from Philadelphia and their best bud Barbara (Marinda Anderson) from Staten Island to make their summer fun memorable and you’re invited along for the roller coaster ride.With a parade of almost forty favorite tunes like “It’s Raining Men,” “Dedicated to the One I Love,” “It’s in His Kiss,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Under the Boardwalk” and “Chapel of Love” as well as brand new songs like “In My Bikini” and “Sandy Shores,” you’ll find yourself dancing in your seat and humming right along.According to an interview with Ray Roderick, way back when the show debuted at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester in 2012, the man who is busy juggling three hats for the show, as creator, choreographer and director, “The show is about fun, females and friendship. It’s 75% songs we know and love and 25% new material. It showcases women in a positive way, written by men who love them.”Calling it “a joyous party,” Roderick finds it “an easy, breezy show where the women don’t stop. They are a talent pool that delivers and has fun in the process.” Stating that the musical’s title is a metaphor for the struggle for equality women face, he feels they are empowered by it, even as they are still vulnerable. The quartet of females in the show relive their past but focus, decades later when they reunite, on the here and now.
The great rock and roll music of the 60’s and 70’s is wrapped around their gathering, a reunion, when they meet to save the Sandy Shores Mobile Home Beach Resort, a favorite landmark on the Jersey beach that is being threatened by a land developer who wants to take over and build condos.
Roderick was inspired by a true story he read in the newspapers. Back in 2007, at the Briny Breezes Trailer Park in Florida, the owners were each offered a million dollars to move and “The Bikinis” is loosely based on that event. In addition, it touches on the innocent fun of that era as well as the Vietnam War, the Woodstock event, flower children and the rise of women’s voices. “The Bikinis” is “a coming of age story that views the world through their eyes.”
For tickets ($36 and up), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.Come discover if these four women can band together to save Sandy Shores and in the process share the great songs of the 60’s and 70’s as this one hit wonder girls’ group reunites decades later. Come hear these women roar.