$15 general admission, $12 seniors/students, $10 groups
Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Girl groups are now an iconic part of the history of the recording industry in America. In a brief, shining period between the payola scandal and the British invasion, American girl groups swamped the charts with songs that are now classic: mostly sweet harmonies on sentimental themes, with classic melody constructions and simplistic love lyrics.
Partially because of the concern that America’s teens would like the songs better if they didn’t know the singers’ color, many girl groups were anonymous except for their recordings. Almost all of them were black, but that was not known to many fans at the time.
“Betty & The Belrays” asks, “what would have happened if a white girl group had actually tried to recapitulate the careers of these black groups?” If you love the songs of The Chiffons, The Crystals, The Shirelles and The Ronettes, you’ll find heaven in this production, whose music recaptures the innovation and fresh, optimistic buoyancy that ruled the AM airwaves in the Kennedy era.
The playwright calls attention to the importance of black music in our culture by honoring the imitation that was its sincerest form of flattery. He also shows off the risks that white performers took in embracing black musical traditions and the civil right movement.
It features a live onstage Motown-style band led by Gary Schreiner, authentic ’60s choreography, and a cast of fourteen. It is recommended for audiences aged ten and up.