Last night, I traveled back in time to the 1980s. It didn’t require me to reach 88 mph or rely on 1.21 gigawatts. All I had to do was find my way to Planet Hollywood’s VII Theater and simply take a seat. Sirc Michaels, producer and director of Evil Dead the Musical 4D, brought the 80s to me with “The 80s Show”, a self-proclaimed interactive “Rad-O-Rama” musical.
“The 80s Show” presents itself as your typical 1980s romantic comedy. Quirky girl loves the gorgeous hunk while remaining oblivious of the feelings of her equally as quirky male counterpart while the punk chick and the hot popular girl support their respective cliques. “The 80s Show” deviates from the usual formula of other musicals by introducing audience participation which, despite the amount of talent on stage, winds up being the highlight of the show. At set points throughout the show, any of the five cast members will make their way to the audience and select unsuspecting viewers to be pulled on stage for the enjoyment of others. Thanks to the small theater, no audience member is safe from the cast’s persistence.
Though the participants really make the show, there is plenty to be said of the small cast of five and their ability to keep the viewers engaged. The stage is essentially empty, which leaves nothing but the flat screen television on the back wall to distract the audience; meaning that every ounce of attention is on the five performers. Making up the small cast are Kim Wood, Kolton Rostron, Kiersten Huang, Alex Lum, and Katherine Leigh. Each vocalist brings something different to the table and typically acts as the counter to their fellow performers.
Alex Lum’s egotistical yet hunky portrayal of Grant and Katherine Leigh’s work as the Barbie-esque McKenzie are the exact adverse to Kolton Rostron’s extremely quirky and endearing part as Jack and Kim Wood’s hilariously dorky rendition Sweets. Standing apart from the entirety of them all is the outlandish Turtle, the voice of reason and the staple conspiracy theorist played to a T by Kiersten Huang.. Regardless of how they play off of each other, each actor is brilliant in their parts to the point where it’s quite believable that they would be that way outside of the show.
The show immediately pulls you back through time when Turtle and Sweets take the stage, donning costumes that ring true to classic 80s attire. After a tirade of memory-inducing dialogue between the theatergoers, the two female leads start the first of the spectator embarrassments with a spot-on rendition of “Video Killed the Radio Star”. From there, the show picks up speed as the crowd loosens up and gets more involved.
While the vocals weren’t the strongest I’ve heard in a musical, maybe due in part to the small theater’s rough acoustics, each performer did the 13-song long set list. From Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” to Nena’s “99 Red Balloons”, the music is diverse, but fits perfectly into the situations at hand. Matching the vocal entertainment is the choreography, created by Cindy Dufault. The dance moves may not be the most elaborate, but they fit suit each song and really inspire a sense of 80s nostalgia.
Sirc Michaels and his band of familiar crew (most of which have followed him from Evil Dead the Musical) have built this charming experience that truly captures the essence of the 1980s. The performers drive home the familiar story with a new allure and do plenty of justice to some of the hardest tunes from the 80s. Above all, though, “The 80s Show’s” audience participation shines, creating the same hilarious experience that one would expect from a Sirc Michaels’ Production.