Wicked Good Celebrates Ten Years of Rocking Revues

Wicked Good Celebrates Ten Years of Rocking Revues

March 13, 2024
by Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

Islanders who love musical theatre have come to rely on the Wicked Good Musical Revue to brighten their late-winter weekends with songs from the stage and screen.

Created in 2014 by Vineyard soprano Molly Conole, the revue brings an accomplished troupe of professional performers to the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, where they sing, act and dance their way through a new program every year. Now directed by baritone David Behnke, with tenor Ken Romero doubling as choreographer, the Wicked Good Musical Revue celebrates its 10-year milestone March 22 through March 24 with a special anniversary program drawn from a decade of past performances.

“It’s a look back on some of our favorite moments,” Mr. Behnke told the Gazette this week.

David Behnke and Jenny Friedman. — Mark Alan Lovewell

This means audiences will get a rare second opportunity to hear Ms. Conole’s show-stopping performance of Me and the Sky, from the 2017 musical Come from Away by Irene Sankoff and David Heim. Audiences in 2020 were moved to tears by the solo, in which pioneering airline pilot Beverley Bass recalls her love of flying and her rise to the cockpit in the male-dominated aviation world, before “the one thing I loved more than anything was used as a bomb” on Sept. 11, 2001.

Another gem from the 2020 revue was Mr. Behnke’s deeply-felt rendition of Lonely House, an aria from Kurt Weill and Langston Hughes’ 1946 show Street Scene, which he will sing again this year.

“Vocally, it fits me like a glove, and it’s unique in the program in that Street Scene blurs the boundary between Broadway and opera,” said Mr. Behnke, who trained in opera at the Yale School of Music.

The revue has plenty of comic moments as well, including a laugh-out-loud duet from the 2015 show Something Rotten, by Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick, in which Mr. Romero plays the nephew of Nostradamus explaining the future of theatre to an Elizabethan would-by playwright (Mr. Behnke).

Shelagh Hackett and Paul Munafo. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Ms. Conole, Mr. Romero — another member of the troupe from the very beginning — are joined for the anniversary show by two other co-founders who have since moved on, Shelagh Hackett and Paul Munafo, along with current members Mr. Behnke, Jenny Friedman, Katherine Reid and Rachel Cook.

“All eight of us come from very different backgrounds [and] bring different strengths,” Mr. Behnke said. “Every number in the show plays to [one or] all of our individual strengths.”

Pianists Peter Boak and Molly Sturges will spell each other as accompanists through the show’s 28 songs, representing 26 different musicals from the 1930s (Cole Porter’s Anything Goes) to the 2010s (Come from Away, Something Rotten).

Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Fats Waller, arranged by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr. for 1978’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, are among the other great composers and writing teams featured in the show.

Rachel Cook and Katherine Reid. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Breaking with the revue’s past practice of continuous 75-minute performances, the anniversary show will have two acts with an intermission, Mr. Behnke said.

Also for the first time, the program will be printed for audience members to follow along, with introductory notes for each song written by Mr. Behnke.

Performances are at 7 p.m. March 22 and March 23 and 2 p.m. March 24, with tickets available at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse box office and website.

An art show in the playhouse lobby presents floral photographs by Bruce Mathews, on display through April 19.