Wonderette: Rebecca Robbins on the Walnut’s holiday show

Rebecca Robbins returns once again to the Walnut Street Theatre—this time to bring holiday cheer in Winter Wonderettes. Robbins plays Missy, one of the four fabulous “Wonderettes.” It’s 1968 and the quartet is singing seasonal favorites at Harper’s Hardware Christmas Party. When Santa is a no-show, the ladies step in to save the celebration with their zany antics. Holiday classics such as “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Santa Baby,” and “Winter Wonderland” are just a few of the songs performed in four-part harmony!

Rebecca3Debra Danese: How did you get involved in this production at Walnut Street Theatre?

Rebecca Robbins: This will actually be my 17th show at Walnut Street Theatre. As for Winter Wonderettes, I auditioned for the director, Richard Parison, the choreographer, Karen Getz, the Producing Artistic Director, Bernard Havard, and the current casting director, Rita Sirianni. When Richard Parison was the casting director, he cast me in my very first production at the Walnut, She Loves Me, back in 2002.

DD: You are playing Missy, one of the four “Wonderettes.” Tell us about your character and how she differs from the other three.

RR: All the roles in Wonderettes are very character driven and all have very specific personalities and character quirks. They are all the same age and have been best friends since high school. In Winter Wonderettes, Missy has recently married their high school choir teacher and has just gotten back from her honeymoon trip around the world-which we actually sing about! Missy is the perfectionist of the group and always wants thing to go off without a glitch – which they rarely do.

Winter Wondrettes Walnut Street Theatre

Rebecca Robbins in WINTER WONDRETTES. Photo by Mark Garvin

DD: Winter Wonderettes is one of the sequels to the The Marvelous Wonderettes, which was set during high school. What has changed for the characters since then?

RR: The most basic difference between the two productions is that this one takes place 10 years later and the girls have grown up. Two have gotten married, one has moved around a lot and tried to find happiness, and the fourth is still living in the same place and working at the same hardware store since high school. They still share the very special friendship they had in high school, but the dynamic has changed a bit with life experience.

DD: The show features over 20 holiday songs. What song is the most challenging to sing?

RR: Musically, this is one of the hardest shows I’ve ever worked on. Almost all 22 songs are sung in four-part harmony with very intricate rhythms and funky jazz chords, which are very difficult to get into your ear. Fortunately, we have an amazing music director, Billy Thompson, who has worked so hard teaching us the music, as well as, consolidating the orchestrations so he can be his own one man band for the show. The song “Snowfall” has probably been the most challenging, but now that we’ve learned it, it’s definitely one of my favorites.

DD: What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

RR: I’d have to say my dad’s homemade fruitcake. Fruitcake usually gets a bad rap, but my dad makes his around Thanksgiving and uses real dried fruit and nuts and pours about a cup of bourbon over the top. He lets it sit in the basement for a few weeks and then mails it out to my sister and me. They are so heavy that it usually costs him more to mail it than it does to make it. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without Dad’s Drunken Fruitcake.

[Walnut Street Theatre] November -December 30, 2018; walnutstreettheatre.org

 

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About the author

Debra Danese

Debra graduated with a degree in dance from the University of the Arts and also holds a B.A. in Arts Administration. She is accredited at the Master Level with the National Registry of Dance Educators. Debra has performed in Europe, Tokyo, Canada, and the Caribbean. She teaches and choreographs world-wide and has been an international guest artist in Switzerland, England, and Slovakia. Debra has been an Artist in Residence on five occasions in Norway where she showcased full length dance productions at the acclaimed Nordland Theatre. She has also presented an original dance production at the Elspe Festival in Germany. Debra has been featured in Dance, Dancer and Dance Teacher Magazines for her work in dance education. Additionally, she has been a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine since 2010.