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BWW Review: THE SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES at Downtown Cabaret Theatre



BWW Review: THE SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES at Downtown Cabaret Theatre

On Friday, September 10, I had the pleasure of seeing THE SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES, reprised at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre. This approximate two hour performance includes nearly fifty different songs, performed by the extremely talented four original cast members. Mikayla Petrilla, Saige Bryan, Robert Peterpaul, and Everton Ricketts all have incredible voices, strong stage presences, tremendous acting skills, tight stage chemistry with each other, and a positive attitude of genuinely enjoying their performance, radiating positive energy all throughout the audience! The choreography by Jennifer Kaye helps highlight the excellent dancing and synchronization skills from this first rate cast.

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. My absolute favorite from each cast member include "Rocket Man" from Robert Peterpaul, "Peace Train," from Saige Bryan, "Lean On Me" from Everton Ricketts, and "Don't Cry Out Loud" from Mikayla Petrilla. Having seen this show twice before, 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. Additional talented cast members Kaylin Weller and Berlin Charles join the four main cast members, during the disco montage.

The Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Commodores, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Supertramp, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, the New Seekers, Three Dog Night, Barry White, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Debby Boone, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Gloria Gaynor, Kool & the Gang, The Bee Gees, the Village People, the Trammps, and K.C. & the Sunshine Band are among the other 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.

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. These screen projections include history bits such as Richard Nixon's resignation and entertainment such as a segment from Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke. The projection screens also show images while the songs are performed.

Beyond the projected film segments, the show provides a sense of the political and social forces active in the 1970s, through the lyrics of the selected songs, song choices I still find to be very fascinating and eye opening in that many of these songs address social and political issues that are still prevalent today. As someone who associates the music of the seventies predominantly with classic rock, I remain 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.

For mature audiences, I highly recommend THE SOUNDS OF THE SEVENTIES which is scheduled to continue to run at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT, through October 3, 2021. For times and tickets, please go to Tickets. The Downtown Cabaret Theatre Decades in Concert series is scheduled to present The Spirit of the Sixties in April, which is projected to include music by the Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, and many more!

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