To be clear, Tacoma Musical Playhouse’s staging of “Shout! The Mod Musical” was pretty much as the script was written by Phillip George and David Lowenstein. It’s more of a revue than a scripted show, with the loose plotline following the advice columns from a British magazine, “Shout,” as the five-female cast struggle to find its way in a world clashing between cultures. They battle the moral questions of free love and unhappy marriages and careers and passions. But none of those struggles are well defined or fully resolved. And that was by design because at the core, the show is about the music.
To that end, the actors excel. Elise Campello, as always, rocks with her high-energy power ballads, while Brynn Garrett, Brynne Geiszler, Allyson Jacobs-Lake and Lauren Nance hold their own. They all give everything to the act, and maybe that was the trouble. When every song is an “A,” it is hard to find a standout in the parade of classics that included “Don't Sleep in the Subway,” “These Boots Are Made for Walkin',” “To Sir, With Love” and “Downtown.”
There were a few missed opportunities in the script that would have seemingly made it more than a walk down memory lane for those who lived through it. Rather than a slate of white actresses, an actress of color powering a ballad about race relations would have deepened the script for example, since certainly race relations were headline news even for those across the pond. There is no mention of Vietnam either during a play that was set between 1960 and 1970. While England officially opted not to send troops, there were Brit boots on the ground in Southeast Asia that was a controversy at the time. Instead, the play just took on “the pill” and fashion.
Granted, director Chris Serface did well with what was on the page, but lost opportunities to “grit up” the show seen to mark much of the two-hour production.
“Shout! The Mod Musical” runs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays through Feb. 9. Tickets are $20 to $29 and available at TMP.org. The theater is located at 7116 Sixth Ave.