Review: ‘The Bikinis’ at Westchester Broadway Theatre

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Currently playing on the Westchester Broadway Theatre stage is The Bikinis: A New Musical Beach Party. Produced by The Bikinis Tour Company, The Bikinis was created by Ray Roderick and James Hindman, with music arrangements by Joseph Baker. The show is mostly a concert highlighting songs from the 60s to the 70s, but also includes a few songs composed by Joseph Baker with lyrics by Ray Roderick. All thirty-five songs are performed by the actresses portraying The Bikinis, a high school group of four women who made one 45 with original songs, whose ‘Side A’ became a one-hit wonder.

Joanna Young, Karyn Quakenbush, Katy Blake, and Anne Fraser Thomas. Photo by John Vecchiolla.

The members included two sisters who lived in Sandy Shores Trailer Park on the water, their cousin, and a good friend. After their hit, and the summer’s end, one of the sisters went off to college and the group ended. Now many years later on New Year’s Eve 1999, with Y2K looming, they reunite and give a concert at the renamed Sandy Shores Mobile Home Resort where a vote is taking place to decide Sandy Shore’s fate because a conglomerate has made an offer to buy each home for an exorbitant price. One sister wants to sell while the other wants to save their home, and they pitch their views during the concert.

The simple beach set where the concert takes place is charming and appropriate with beach cabanas, and a beach sand fence with the band directly behind. (the set design is uncredited in the program).

There are colorful stage lights and Christmas lights decorating the cabanas and fence. There is also a screen above the stage which displays actual photographs from the time period, corresponding to the music. You will probably see pictures which could be from your own family albums.
Lighting Director Jamie Roderick did an excellent job changing the lighting form song to song. I enjoyed the orange glow during “Heat Wave” and the sparkling disco ball on “I’m Every Woman.”

Karyn Quakenbush, Joanna Young, Anne Fraser Thomas, Katy Blake. Photo by John Vecchiolla.

The four-member band under the direction of Dan Pardo on keyboard I with Brandon Sturiale (keyboard II), Matt Sangiovanni (guitar), and Elena Bonomo (drums) was terrific. They produced an impressive, full-sound throughout. The drum solo and the end of the intro to Act 2 was great.

The story is loosely threaded throughout the songs. During Act 1, they perform the little beach musical they used to do in high school in the style of the Beach Movies starring Annette Funicello. Was it silly? Emphatically yes! But so were those movies.

The music is fun and the voices are wonderful. Katy Blake, Anne Fraser Thomas, Joanna Young, and Karyn Quakenbush each have powerful voices. They harmonized and blended beautifully. Joanna Young had a stand-out moment while doing an Elvis impersonation to “Shakin’ in the Sand.” Anne Fraser Thomas has a beautiful, powerful, and deep voice impressively used while singing “Secret Agent Man.” Katy Blake did a terrific job strutting around in bootsa   a la Nancy Sinatra while singing “These Boots were Made for Walking.” Karyn Quakenbush was a hoot when portraying old Papa Gianati, but her voice really shone while singing “Midnight Blue.”

The Bikinis is a trip down memory lane to the 60s through the music of the time. You will also enjoy their hit, “In My Bikini” and leave smiling after the touching last song “Sandy Shores,” sung in beautiful harmony.

Running Time: Approximately two hours, with one 30-minute intermission

The Bikinis: A New Musical Beach Party plays through March 19, 2017, at Westchester Broadway Theatre – One Broadway Plaza, in Elmsford, NY. For tickets call the box office at (914) 592-2222, or purchase them online.