Archikulture Digest

8 Track – The Sounds of the 70’s

8 Track – The Sounds of the 70’s

By Rick Seeber and Michael Gribbin

Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan

Musical Direction by Chris Leavy

Starring Alyssa Yost, Belinda Johnson, Bert Rodriguez, and Trevor Southworth

Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park, FL</strong>

Polyester, polyester, wherefore art thou…polyester? There was a distinct lack of leisure suits in this show, and the cast dressed more Woodstock than Studio 54 but the music captures the hot rotation from that summer I spent working at an AM top 40 station. Each cast member was nominally associated with a fashion vice of the decade: Alyssa Yost is the feminist with the Carol Kinge kinked out hair, Trevor Southworth the preppy with a turtle neck and a popped collar, Belinda Johnson goes for the Farrah Fawcett look and worries about your mood ring, and Bert Rodriguez is the disco king in the velour shirt and the anachronistic Kewpie doll haircut. But ignore the fashion crash, you’re here for the singing and there’s tons of great material, all arranged by theme: the ensemble “We’ve Only Just Begun” gets us rolling, Rodriguez makes love to his pet rock with “Alone Again Naturally,” and “I Am Woman” give the K-Tel section some solid punch. Thankfully we only get one line of “Desiderata,” I much prefer the National Lampoon version. We protest a losing war with that chestnut “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” and very white version of “War” and “Brick House” gives us a touch of the soul funk disco ahead, and even Sanford Townsend Band’s “Smoke from a Distant Fire” appears. If there’s one song I associate with that radio job, it’s that one.

We break for some Boone’s Farm Strawberry Wine at the bar, and the cast comes back in even more sweat inducing polyester; I was particularly taken by Rodriguez’s “King Herod” look from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” The opener “One Toke Over the Line” struggles to balance socially wavering views on smoking in the boy’s room, but some of the best material lies ahead. Arranger Gribbin brilliantly meshes C.W. McCall’s macho CB ballad “Convoy” with Paul Simons sappy “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” I’ve seen sitcoms with weaker ideas and Southworth looked almost truckerish in his gimme cap and hunting vest. The pinnacle of the show is the discos medley with the cast all in angelic white and dancing artfully to all the iconic songs from “The Hustle” to “Star Wars Cantina Band.” Up in the rafters is an eye dazzling LED disco ball – Don’t stare at it too long, or you’ll be ready to vote for Reagan all over again. The choreography by Roy Alan is slick and Leavy – Wilkinson – Forrest band hits all the notes right where they need to be. I remember the 70’s as a grim and troubled decade, but through these musical theater blinders it looks like we had a ball in the gas lines. Think how much more fun it would be if we added punk and progressive rock!

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org


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