Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Crowd Pleasing “MiXtape”: High Energy, High Volume Remix of 80’s Culture Returns For A Summer Run

A decade of music is a terrible thing to forget. But yours truly seems to have either slept through the eighties or has selective memory about what was happening on the musical front. In fact until I saw the show in 2010 I don't recall every hearing a mixtape. 
Angie Avila, Jayna Jones abd Joy Yandell
“MiXtape”, 80’s musical review was created by resident Lamb’s actors Jon Lorenz (musical arrangements) and Colleen Kollar Smith (she also choreographed) and directed by another long time resident player and staff favorite Kerry Meads. Smith has since moved on and is now managing director of Moonlight Stage Productions but on opening night was there to cheer on her cast.

Maequell Clayton, A.J. Mendoza, Shawn W. Smith and David S. Humphrey
The young (at least to me) bouncy and energetic cast includes Angela Chatelain, Marquell Clayton, David S. Humphrey, Janaya Mehealani Jones, A.J. Mendoza Shawn W. Smith an Joy Yandell. Both Humphries and Yandell were in the last incarnation. That’s holding power for ya.

Some of the music and tunes choreographed and sung in Lamb’s Players Theatre now up and running on the Coronado stage for the first time through Sept.1st (look for it to be extended again) should sound and look familiar to some since it played in the downtown Horton Grand Theatre in 2015 for 3 ½ years.

But for the fact that all the numbers from that generation are included in this potpourri of musical memory has to be a tribute to the artists and the mixed generation of theatregoers. Looking around at the audience, the over 100++musical numbers held appeal to almost every member on opening night who, by the looks and body language were having a blast from the past. 

The Cast of miXtape
Some notables: Ronald Reagan was president. It was at the very beginnings of the dawn of AIDS, the Space Shuttle Challenger mission went down  and idol Christa McAuliffe (the first teacher to ride a shuttle) perished along with the rest of the crew, Atari, boom boxes, Cabbage Patch Dolls, and mix tapes and Pac-man, all played key rolls in the lives of this generation. 

The show embraces Generation X to its fullest giving us a flashback to the 80’s scene including MTV, big hair, leg warmers, workout outfits (“Let’s Get Physical”), a Richard Simmons (Shawn W. Smith) look a like and an odd combination of period dress (Jemima Dutra) that, looking back were colorful and fit the look at that generation. I never did understand those leg warmers.
Rick Ogden, Leo Correia, Dave Rumley, Oliver Shirley, Andy Ingersoll (photo bt Nat Peirson)
The bouncy, up beat and purely physical musical journey we are taken on include songs from U2, Duran Duran, Amy Grant, Huey Lewis, Poynter Sisters, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Bette Middler (mini, mini version of “Wind Beneath My Wings”). The visuals come from Michael McKeon’s projections that light up the stage bringing clarity (at least to me) that I did live through that time. That’s selective memory.

Between McKeon’s projections, Mike Buckley’s multi level/ramps Nathan Pierson’s lighting design and Patrick Duffy’s sound design, and the constant movement of the entire cast, numbers that started out a solos and became production numbers never gave the audience a chance too catch up forget the oxygen tanks that must have been backstage for the performers. Twenty years younger and I wasn’t in that good condition.  
Cast of miXtape
The five-piece band with Andy Ingersoll, Leo Correia, Rick Ogden, David Rumley and Oliver Shirley, played to perfection. Some of the band members, also in the 2010 production,  played solo with god-awful wigs supposedly looking like the mega stars whose music they were playing. On opening night everyone was primed for prime time and showed no signs of slowing down

So get physical and put on your leg warmers. Remember, there were no cell towers, so no cell phones.  Your iPhones didn’t exist so you must keep moving to the music. Enjoy even if it’s to tap your toes and slap your knees.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Sept. 1st
Organization: Lamb’s Players Theatre
Phone: 619-437-6000
Production Type: Musical
Where: 1142 Orange Ave. Coronado, CA 92118
Ticket Prices: Start at $28.00
Web: lambsplayers.org
Venue: Lamb’s Players Theatre
Photo: Ken Jacques

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