Review: Streakin’ thru the ‘70s
James A. Rocco & Albert Evans with Heidi Karol Johnson
Director: Chris Burton
Co Directors: Kirsten Clark & Alex Hughes
Review Date: 18/03/21
As an annual attendee of the PNBHS/PNGHS productions I have come to know what to expect of their performances. I had heard whispers that things were very different this year and given the name of the production, and my poor musical theatre knowledge, I felt nervous about what I would see. I thought perhaps it was a dubious choice to introduce streaking to a group of teenagers and that it might upset some parents. Rest assured, I got it wrong, there was no nudity.
This year they certainly did shake things up, and while some things shaken are terrible (like a shot of baileys and lime juice shaken together in the mouth), some things are just better (like milkshakes that bring all the boys to the yard). Streakin’ thru the '70s is what this show is all about, bringing together a heady cocktail of disco, fashion, TV game shows, feminism, anti-war/peace protests and The Muppets. The Muppets were well used as part of the show with just the right amount of cameo appearances, except Kermit’s hands which will haunt me for a while…
My taste in musicals is very narrow, it has to be almost not a musical for me to enjoy it. When I read the programme and saw the extensive list of musical numbers I audibly groaned. I was heartened only by the fact that there were some real bangers in there like Disco Inferno, You Sexy Thing, I am Woman, Peace Train and so on. I resigned myself to a long night of it.
Lest you think that I am being a negative Nancy, I am just getting to the redemption stage. This streak through the '70s was pitched extremely well to my age group which is the youthful group born in the '70s or prior. The structure of the show was as free and loose as the '70s movement, just like me. This musical even frees itself from the suffocating structure of having a storyline and just dances and sings up a disco dream. A very liberating experience indeed. Some patrons had got into the spirit of things and dressed up in theme. So, feel free to dust off your old disco clothes and strut on in to this production.
Let’s not forget the cast. Usually there are some main characters around which all the action occurs. There still were some main players who hosted the proceedings but this year it felt very much more inclusive. The cast seemed to be having a great time, it was like watching a really good party. The actors felt much closer and much more connected to the performance especially when they were set up as live studio audiences instead of backstage between sets. The ensemble dancing and singing numbers were energetic and engaging. No one seemed to be trying too hard to impress, they were really, or seemed to be, having a great time. That’s not to say that they weren’t trying, they must have been. The show ran very smoothly with all set changes, lighting and band running without a hitch. If they messed anything up they had the skills to carry on without blinking, because I didn’t notice it. Oh okay, there was a costume mishap (minor) which Gabby Clark managed without fuss.
Paris Kareko, who played the role of Gloria, was a stand-out actor, singer and dancer. She was the perfect fit as host of the production with her enthusiasm and well-landed one-liners. She was a star on stage, with a standout performance in the finale in a gold jumpsuit belting out ‘I Will Survive’ and dancing like a boss. Boom!
Tom Varney sang some heart-melting numbers as Donny. Wow, I thought James Taylor was in the room. His relaxed manner really added to the experience. Jacob Dredge and Josiah Luoni also impressed with amazing vocals that really brought the spirit of the songs to life especially in Peace Train.
Gabby Clark played an impressive and energetic scene reminiscent of Stephen Kings Carrie while singing Disco Inferno. She’s acting crazy – I hope. Her singing performance was solid.
Okay there is a lot of talk about singing, but there is a lot of singing and I know good singing when I see it, and oh my, Laura Lopez playing the roles of both Peggy and Lucy, demonstrated outstanding singing talent. In her rendition of You Light up my Life she showed breath-taking (great pun huh) control even while singing with an Irish accent. It became a joy to see her walk to the front of the stage to hearing what she would sing next.
Drum roll please! The band were great! Three cheers for the band. Three cheers for the Band Director Danielle Joe.
Take a bow dancers (and Dance Director Alex Hughes), your energy was awesome, I wanted to dance with you.
Holler out to Kirsten Clark (Vocal Director), those singers, need I say more? I’ll spare my voice.
Congratulations Director Chris Burton. You went fast and loose and it worked.
Stay cool team. You seem to be having a great time. Keep sharing the joy.
P.S. It was actually a shorter show than usual, and very high energy, so not time to get uncomfortable in your seat or start yawning. You’ll leave with a spring in your step.
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