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'The Marvelous Wonderettes' cast members grow their friendships (Video)

By BY J.R. ORTEGA - JRORTEGA@VICAD.COM
Feb. 15, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 14, 2013 at 8:15 p.m.

In preparation for the upcoming "The Marvelous Wonderettes," from left, Leilani Valdes, Melissa Jecker, Tanya Wilkinson and Patricia Balmer rehearse their roles to an empty theater. The performances run from Friday though Feb. 23 at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Victoria.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Theatre Victoria's "The Marvelous Wonderettes"

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Feb. 18-23 and 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Leo J. Welder Center, 214 N. Main St.

FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION: Call 361-570-8587 or visit theatrevictoria.org

The scene backstage of the Leo J. Welder Center is a hectic one.

One woman waits as false lashes are applied, another shimmies into a puffed-up baby blue crinoline dress, and two others look at their costumes for the first time.

Despite the frenzied atmosphere, the four women crowded in the narrow room manage to laugh, talk and sing as they prepare for their first dress rehearsal of Theatre Victoria's "The Marvelous Wonderettes," a musical about four teens singing their way through the 1958 high school prom and again at their 10-year class reunion.

The show is fun, said Tanya Wilkinson, 33, who plays the fun-loving, spastic Missy. But even more fun is the bond the women have found both on and off the stage.

"I did it as a fun thing to do with my sister," Wilkinson said, laughing, as her sister, Leilani Valdes was undergoing makeup. "You never know when an opportunity like this would happen again."

Valdes, 40, plays Betty Jean; Melissa Jecker, 32, plays Suzy, and Patricia Balmer, 40, plays Cindy Lou.

The four have practiced at least three hours a day, five times a week since the beginning of January and have grown closer.

"It's like I've been having girl's night five nights a week," Wilkinson said.

The girls are not new to theater production with Theatre Victoria.

"We're all volunteers," Balmer said. "We all have day jobs."

Balmer, who teaches choir at Edna High School, said acting like an 18-year-old isn't too hard; she has had much practice, she said laughing.

The hardest part about the musical is being talented as a singer, dancer and actor.

Jecker finds the four-part harmonies the most difficult.

"They've been really supportive," she said of her fellow cast members. "All of them have musical training, and I don't."

The group said they have a newfound respect for actors who use all three talents at once.

"I could never run a marathon," Wilkinson said. "But this - this is my marathon. It's a challenge."

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