The Bikinis – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

In the middle of the cold, snow and ice of February, how nice of the Connecticut Cabaret in Berlin to usher in some warmth and sunshine. You might not want to don a bathing suit unless you plan to take a Polar Bear Plunge for charity, but you are encouraged to come and enjoy songs of the 1960’s and 1970’s in “The Bikinis” weekends courtesy of co-writers Ray Roderick and James Hindman and composer and musical arranger Joe Baker. As a fun and festive beach party musical, it will be putting down the plaid blankets, playing beach ball bingo and rubbing on the suntan lotion until Saturday, March 16.

Remember your good friends the “Jersey Boys,” now it’s time to make room on stage for the Jersey Girls. In 1964, four B.F. F.’s (best friends forever) on a lark enter a talent contest wearing (you guessed it) bikinis and win the Belmar Beach boardwalk banners. Two teenage sisters from Paramus, Jodi (Maria Soaft) and Annie (Erin Liddell), join forces with their impetuous cousin Karla (Emily Gray) from Philadelphia and their best bud Barbara (Erica Whitfield) from Staten Island to make their summer fun memorable and you’re invited along for the musical roller coaster ride.

With a parade of over thirty 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. The girls’ obsession with the opposite sex fuels their choice of tunes.

This spirited quartet of ladies are packed with joy and energy and are thrilled to be together for a twenty year reunion, recreating their teenage pleasures and conjuring up Frankie and Annette, Elvis and Nancy Sinatra along the way.

They are a talent pool that delivers and has fun in the process. According to Ray Roderick, the creator and writer, 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 the original talent contest where the goal of the girls was to pay for a 45 record to get on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Now fast forward to their gathering 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.

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 true story. 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,” according to Roderick.

For tickets ($35), call CT. Cabaret 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m.and Saturday 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Remember to pack goodies to share at your table or plan to buy them at the concession stand on site.

Come rediscover the great songs of the 60’s and 70’s as this one hit wonder girls’ group reunites as women. Come hear them roar.

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