The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina is taking America's fascination with the 1960s from the small screen to the stage with its summer production of "Shout! The Mod Musical," playing now through July 29.
Off-Broadway's shagadelic smash brings back the fashion, dances and music of the vinyl era now all the rage thanks to television shows such as "Mad Men" and "Pan Am." But this time, the setting is London, the swinging center of youth culture during this decade of rapid social changes.
The show opens with five young women flipping through the pages of SHOUT!, a Cosmo-style magazine full of topical stories on everything from the birth-control pill to the dangers of marijuana. Defined by the color of their clothing, these groovy gals (four Brits and an American) represent a cross-section of easily identifiable personalities of the day.
As the '60s unfold, they go through major life changes, seeking the advice of the magazine's advice columnist and dancing to the music of British pop divas like Lulu, Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark.
The arts center brought in Bradley Vieth, the original orchestrator and arranger for the 2006 off-Broadway production, to be the musical director.
"We thought it was going to be a 'girl's night out' kind of show," Vieth said of the New York run. "But it drew a much broader audience. Young people came back again and again to hear the music. Men liked it because the women are just gorgeous."
The rowdy roster of chart-toppers includes "Downtown," "To Sir With Love," "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" and "Son of a Preacher Man." Some of the arrangements recreate the original sound; others are quite different.
Along with the music, the show follows the fashions from the early 1960s to 1970. The girls go from the Jackie Kennedy look to the mod, colorful styles of London's famed Carnaby Street to carefree hippie clothing.
"It was a fun time for fashion," said Diana Griffin, the arts center's assistant costume designer. "You're going to see miniskirts, go-go boots and even some vinyl dresses."
Among the cast of five is Meredith Inglesby, who grew up on Hilton Head Island and made her professional debut as Eliza Doolittle in the arts center's 1998 production of "My Fair Lady." She has since been featured in Broadway's "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid."
"When I was offered the opportunity to come back home and perform in 'Shout!', I couldn't pass it up," Inglesby said. "It's like a paid vacation. I'm working hard, but I get to spend time with family and friends."