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"8-Track" salutes the music of the 1970s in all its hokey glory

Staff Writer

The revue “8-Track: the Sounds of the ’70s” boogies through 40 or so songs from the Me Decade at a disco-frenzy pace, barely leaving enough time for the cast to change from one groovy outfit to another.

At first, you may wish for a nice dry wine to go with the cheese platter that is promised to come with the show staged at the Plaza Theatre in Manalapan. After all, pasteurized pleasures from that era include “Feelings” (mercifully cut down to a single line), “You Light Up My Life” (sung with a gospel blaze) and “Afternoon Delight” (played for all its inherent PG-rated humor).

But then the quartet of singers — Mimi Jimenez, Leah Sessa, Bryan Desmond Williams, Danny O’Connor — win you over, even singing to tinny-sounding recorded tracks.

Directed and choreographed with slick, keep-’em-movin’-keep-’em-groovin’ pacing by Kevin Black, the cast doesn’t try to hide the hokey. They celebrate it, digging in with their platform heels and solidly knocking out song after song.

Yeah, it’s very cruise ship/casino lounge-y, but it’s the very best cruise ship/casino lounge-y. Even if you don’t know a Carpenter from a Bee Gee, and the very thought of Helen Reddy, Barry Manilow and Tony Orlando makes you clench up, you can just tune it all out and watch what amounts to a funky fashion show, which is freakin’ hysterical all by itself.

“8-Track” skates right through some of the 1970s’ stickier, problematic parts. The Vietnam War is referenced with a truncated version of Edwin Starr’s “War,” while protest is only passingly touched upon with the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It to the Streets.”

Then, the weed comes out and songs such as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not To Come” and Bread’s “Make It With You” are played for comedic effect.

Eventually, AM (think Ray Stevens or Melissa Manchester) gives way to FM (imagine the Eagles or Roberta Flack). Regrettably, the show is light on Carole King, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel (and the omission of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” is a sin). But then, there is an all-is-forgiven disco finale, and the show goes out with a bang in 90 minutes — precisely — with no intermission.

“8-Track” will run through July 7 at the Plaza Theatre, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., in Manalapan. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. matinees Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost $38. Call 561-588-1820 or go to

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