8-Track, the Sounds of the 70s, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. "Everyone is beautiful in their own way," Ray Stevens sang in his 1970 hit "Everything Is Beautiful." That sentiment is embraced by this genial, engaging revue. Instead of sleek, sexy singer-dancers, the show features four average-looking folks. These are people you might run into at any suburban nightclub--which makes their obvious affection for the show's 50-plus tunes credible and contagious despite the performers' limited dance skills and sometimes ill-fitting costumes.
Denver-based creator-director Rick Seeber has chosen a broad though hardly comprehensive cross section of 70s hits. The emphasis is on light pop and funk; rock is given short shrift. Accompanied by a slick, studio-recorded sound track, the singers spoof the kitschiness of some numbers: "I Write the Songs," "Car Wash," "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," an audience-participation "YMCA." But they find sweetness and surprising depth in others. Bradley Beahen's rendition of Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)," sung to his pet rock, is both comic and poignant; Aimee K. Bryant boldly belts Melissa Manchester's "Don't Cry Out Loud"; Daniel M. Riley conveys the understated ache in James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight." And Keri Waggoner's wonderfully expressive rendition of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" does full justice to this beautiful ballad. With their memorable melodies and often intelligent lyrics, oldies like these take on new life as musical monologues in an intimate cabaret setting.