“8-Track,” at Downtown Cabaret

By Irene Backalenick

Even for theatergoers who do not recall the music of the ‘70s, were never fans of the Bee Gees or the Doobie Brothers, the excellent show currently at Downtown Cabaret is a wildly-exciting revelation. For those who do recall that raucous era, “8-Track, the Sounds of the 70’s” is a satisfying trip to Nostalgialand. And this reviewer, for one, never a devotee of musical revues, is now a believer. Within the format of the musical revue (a collection of songs, with no story line or strong theme), the show is letter-perfect.


Teddey Brown with his best friend in 8-Track, The Sounds of the 70's at Downtown Cabaret Theatre

All of this is achieved with a minimum of set at the Cabaret, proving the oft-quoted line that good theater requires only a bare stage, a performer, and his material. Director/conceiver Rick Seeber has put together a range of ‘70s tunes, which include such highlights as “I Want You Back,” “American Pie,” “I am Woman,” “You Light Up My Life,” “One Toke Over the Line,” and “Car Wash.” The range of songs and musical styles spell out the elements which defined the era—freedom to experiment in all ways, a rejection of the old social values, a yearning for world peace, and a new age spiritualism.

Seeber has recruited a highly professional cast of four to give life to the show. Teddey Brown, Denise Estrada, Nik Rocklin, and Liana Young are four hotties who infuse a sexually-charged exhilaration to every piece. (Though Estrada is a newcomer to the show, she has adapted to her fellow performers, all veteran 8-trackers who have toured the country.) Each performer puts his own stamp of personality on the work, as they move through the repertoire of solos, duets, trios, and full company numbers. And they are well-equipped to handle Tonya Phillips Staples’ fluid, constantly-changing choreography.

Watching the show from the balcony, one sees the audience involvement, its strong connection with the performers and the music. The house is rocking. “8-Track” is not only a musical revue, but something akin to a revival meeting, a religious happening.

This review appears shortly in the Connecticut Post and on the web site: nytheaterscene.com

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