BWW Review: THE SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES at Downtown Cabaret Theatre
On Saturday, February 1, I had the pleasure of revisiting THE SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT. I enjoyed it even more this second time seeing it! This approximate two hour performance includes nearly fifty different songs, performed by four extremely talented cast members. Mikayla Petrilla, Saige Bryan, Everton Ricketts, and Kyle Riedinger all have incredible voices, a strong stage presence, tremendous acting skills, tight stage chemistry with each other, and a positive attitude of genuinely enjoying their performance, radiating positive energy all throughout this packed house! The choreography by Jennifer Kaye helps highlight the excellent dancing and synchronization skills from this first rate cast. The excited audience reactions including singing and dancing along during certain parts of the show indicate that the rest of the audience shares my extremely positive views of this incredible show!
There are no spoken lines or dramatic story within this concert; rather it is song after song skillfully performed. Writer Phill Hill chose predominantly mainstream American 1970s chart-topping songs for this show. These choices are perfect for highlighting this stellar cast's talents. Some numbers are performed together by all four cast members, while others showcase just one cast member, or two. Every decision works out smoothly, in terms of who sings which songs, and in which parts of the shared songs any given individual takes the lead. I knew all the songs that were performed, this cast doing justice to every one of them. The songs are not performed in sequence of release date within the seventies, but are rather more randomly interspersed, with the exception of a huge montage of disco songs at the very end, which is enhanced by the appearance of additional talented cast members Kaylin Weller and Berlin Charles.
There are numerous costume changes, reflecting different styles from the 1970s. The projection screens in the back of the stage show various television or movie segments from the 1970s, keeping the audience entertained during the off-stage costume changes. History bits such as Richard Nixon's resignation and a feminist argument with Hugh Hefner are also projected on the screens.
The Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Commodores, Elton John, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Supertramp, James Taylor, Barry White, Joni Mitchell, the New Seekers, Bill Withers, Three Dog Night, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Debby Boone, Gloria Gaynor, Kool & the Gang, The Bee Gees, the Village People, the Trammps, and K.C. & The Sunshine Band are among the artists whose music is performed. The music genres are mostly easy listening, adult contemporary, Motown, and disco, with Edwin Starr's "War" being the heaviest of the songs performed. Saige Bryan sings Cat Stevens' "Peace Train," with such passion and sincerity that she makes the audience feel the song's message.
Beyond the projected film segments, younger audiences are given a sense of the political and social forces active in the 1970s, just through the lyrics of the selected songs, choices I found to be very fascinating and eye opening in that many of these songs had influential social and political messages on mainstream American culture, impacting social and political issues that are still prevalent today. I am grateful for this show expanding my horizons of awareness as to what messages mainstream America was getting through music at the time, and how mainstream America recalls the 1970s decade of music.
I highly recommend THE SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES, which is scheduled to continue to run at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, in Bridgeport, CT through February 16, 2020. For times and tickets, please go to Tickets.