There's no way Claire Houser could have turned down the role.
Houser, of Ebensburg, played the part of Missy when Cresson Lake Playhouse produced "The Marvelous Wonderettes" this past spring. So when the company decided to produce the holiday sequel, "The Winter Wonderettes," there was no question.
"My gosh, it was so much fun," Houser said. "[Missy] is so much fun to portray. I had to do it again. I love it that much."
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
In Cresson Lake Playhouse’s production “The Winter Wonderettes,” (from left) Kelly Devett, Claire Houser and Kelly Jo Wise play Betty Jean, Suzy and Missy, three of the four “Wonderettes.”
Houser and her three castmates, Kelly Jo Wise, Kelly Devett and Johnna Cwik, will perform "The Winter Wonderettes" at 8 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 3 and 4 at the Cambria County Court House, 200 South Center Street, Ebensburg.
Houser, Wise and Devett all reprise their roles from "The Marvelous Wonderettes" cast.
The show is directed by Gina Volpe, who is helming her first show for CLP.
If you go
What: "The Winter Wonderettes," presented by Cresson Lake Playhouse
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 and 2 p.m. Dec. 3 and 4
Where: Cambria County Court House, 200 South Center St., Ebensburg
Tickets: $17 for adults and $12 for students under 18. They are available by calling the Cresson Lake Playhouse Box Office at 472-4333 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and additional tickets will be available at the door.
The production, full of humor and music, follows four friends who have had a girl group since high school. The first play, "The Marvelous Wonderettes," showed the quartet as they performed at their high school prom in 1958 and then 10 years later, at their high school reunion.
"The Winter Wonderettes" picks up as the girls perform at the 1968 holiday party at Harper's Hardware, where Betty Jean, played by Devett, has worked since graduation.
Each girl in the show possesses a very distinct personality: Betty Jean is the clown; Cindy Lou, played by Cwik, is the bad girl, "now reformed (to a point)," according to CLP's press release; Missy is the over-achiever; and Suzy is "very bubbly and kid-like," said Wise, the actress who portrays her.
It's their personalities that spur the show's antics, Houser said.
"We've already done this show, and the lines are loose, so if you don't exactly get a line the same way, you can play off the personalities," she said. "Kelly's character, Suzy, is almost dim-witted, so it's funny to react to her dim-wittedness with my character's bossiness.
"I wouldn't say the characters are similar to us, but we like to get into character and work off that character. We're all friends, and we've literally been hanging out since the first show.
"Our characters have been built from the first rehearsal of 'The Marvelous Wonderettes.' We're so in sync; it's going to be so funny."
The prospect of revisiting the characters and acting with her friends again drew Wise back into her role.
"Honestly, it was being together with the girls again [that brought her back]," she said. "We had so much fun before. Suzy is a fun character to play, and I wanted the opportunity to do it again.
"It's fun to play that character and play off the other girls. We all have distinct personalities, and you wouldn't think we'd be good friends in the show, but we are. It's very fun and light-hearted."
And as much fun as the actresses have, they expect the audience to have just as much fun.
"Oh my gosh, if this doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, I don't know what will," Houser said. "It's funny and full of Christmas carols. There's no Christmas carol you won't recognize. People will be all smiles the entire time, and I think people are really, really going to enjoy it."
"It will be a very light-hearted evening," Wise said. "It will melt your concerns away."
"And the audience can expect to leave the show humming the tunes for the next several days," she added with a laugh.
Wise also believes that locating the production in the Cambria County Court House makes it more of a community event.
"It's a very non-traditional venue," she said. "It's a lot of fun. There are some limitations with respect to lighting and sets, but it's a great opportunity for Cresson Lake. To bring this right into the community, it makes it really accessible. It becomes a part of the community preparing for Christmas.
"Yes, there are some challenges, but it's better because it's a community thing."
Mirror Staff Writer Cory Dobrowolsky can be reached at 946-7428.