Okay, it's hokey and at times downright silly, but even so, the new Boogie Wonderland: The Music of the '70s, playing matinees and evenings through Aug. 22 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, is a lot of fun.
Writers Scott Daniel and Matthew McGee, who star in the show with singer Sara DelBeato, have quite obviously had a grand old time tacking (or is it tackying?) together this 90-minute paean to the best and worst of the decade that brought us polyester jump suits, mirrored disco balls, Star Wars and everything that made it, as the writers say, "a time to remember and forget."
What will be remembered are some of the best dancers and singers to ever hit the stage at the Show Palace.
Newcomers Ella Glasgow and Joshua Hayes could do a show all by themselves, with Glasgow's sultry voice and moves and Hayes' smooth mix of Lionel Richie and Tracy Morgan with a touch of Jimmie Walker-style Dyn-O-Mite.
Their Reunited near the start of the second act is truly a show highlight. In addition, Hayes burns up the airwaves in Disco Inferno, and captures the sound and feel of the Commodores in Brick House, his lithe moves making the most of his silver slipover shirt and skin-tight white bell-bottoms. Glasgow channels Amii Stewart in Knock on Wood and burns up the boards in big production numbers with the rest of the 12-member cast.
But the show-stopper is Daniel, whose nerdy comic moves as Larry the time traveler belie an incredible singing voice. He can croon with the best of them, but startles and shines with a clear, true falsetto in Stayin' Alive.
Crowd favorite McGee doesn't disappoint, ad-libbing, mugging and generally carrying the show, pulling it together as the eye-rolling KariZma, leader of retro planet Boogie Wonderland.
The story is slight — three U.S. astronauts (DelBeato, Daniel and Lauren Gemelli as Lt. Cheryl Zadora) emerge from their time/space machine in the 1970s, declaring I Will Survive in an all-new context.
Writers Daniel and McGee use this vehicle to recall those days, with the help of B.A.B.E. the gold-plated FemBot (Adrienne J. Bergeron), who has all the right moves and sounds, David Tanciar's spot-on 1970s choreography and a super-talented cast.
Tanciar, who also plays Disco Daddy, leads his Disco Divas Christy Doherty and Erika Elise Scott and cohort Dean-Carlo Grant in every breath-catching, dangerous disco move John Travolta made — and then some.
The two couples' tricky over-the-head lifts, flips, head-sweeps and turns are heart-stopping, but their smiles and energy just keep going and going.
Musician Stan Collins is back from a stint at Tampa's Jaeb Theatre with special musical arrangements and orchestrations that perfectly capture the '70s feel and put oomph under Tanciar's choreography, segueing from Boogie Man to Boogie Nights and letting the females strut to Enough is Enough.
The slow, sweet moments are just as pleasing, as when Alex Covington as DeeDee, the naive innocent, does the Karen Carpenter classic, Close to You, and DelBeato starts slow and smooth on the Donna Summers hit Last Dance and turns it into a belting bravura performance.
Stage manager Susan Haldeman handles scenic and lighting designer Tom Hansen's mood-setting backdrops, cartoonish set pieces and stark lighting right on cue and with flair, enhancing the whole 1970s experience.
As McGee laughingly concedes, Boogie Wonderland isn't Shakespeare (or Rodgers and Hammerstein, either), but its music provides a loving look back at a time that was post-innocent 1950s, pre-cynical 1990s and a far cry from the oil-soaked, war-torn, politically malicious 2010s.