Lamb’s Players Theatre continues the wildly successful, repeatedly extended run of its musical revue, “ MiXtape ”
By Pat Launer
Spike your hair and dig out your old workout headband, leg-warmers and neon-colored clothes. Lamb’s Players Theatre is taking you on a trip back to the ‘80s. Their homegrown musical revue, “ MiXtape ,” is a smashing success, already in its sixth month and third extension.
The Coronado-based company had a mega-hit — with multiple return engagements — with “Boomers,” a nostalgic revisit to the ‘60s. Now they’re aiming for Gen Xers (born between 1961 and 1981) – and those who love their music. It’s a wild, rollicking, rapid-paced ride through a decade of outrageous outfits and angst-ridden songs.
Friday night is ‘Dress ‘80s and Get a Free Beverage’ night… and not only 30-to-40-somethings are getting into the act. Those older and younger are crowding in – and singing along, too. And that’s music to the ears of the Lamb’s Players.
It all began with a casual conversation between resident ensemble members Jon Lorenz and Colleen Kollar Smith. She’s a choreographer and he’s a musician and composer; his musical, “ Alice ,” was selected by renowned composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”) to be part of the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop.
So, they were sitting around during rehearsals of “Detective Story” at Lamb’s (2003) and realizing how many cultural references they shared. This led to an informal survey of their friends’ favorite songs, movies, artists, products, commercials and TV shows. A lot of those responses — from Prince to the Pretenders; Pac-Man to Mr. T; “Ghostbusters” to “Risky Business” — made their way into the energetic, irresistible 90-minute show.
The songs will jog just about anyone’s memory (and speaking of jogging, there’s a hilarious riff on Jazzercise): “Don’t Stop Believin ,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” “What a Feeling,” “Our House,” Let’s Get Physical,” “Pump up the Jam,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “It’s the End of the World As We Know It,” and more than a hundred others. Strike some familiar chords? If not, they will when you hear them, sung by killer performers, accompanied by a knockout band.
Many of the original cast and musicians have returned after the holiday hiatus. But Joy Yandell , who just won a San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award as Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, is leaving the show at the end of the month. She is spectacular, and looks hot and gorgeous in every one of her innumerable outfits and wigs (wonderfully eclectic costumes by Jemima Dutra).
The whole ensemble is superb ( Geno Carr, Rebecca Spear, Michelle Pereira, Leonard Patton, Spencer Rowe and Marci Wuebben ), each carving out a character type: the snobby, the nerdy, the streetwise, the ditsy, the ultra-hip, the tender-hearted. Each recalls the mixtapes – audiocassette collages or compilations – that marked their lives in memorable music.
“Music cements a moment in time,” says co-creator Lorenz, who performs in the current cast, and with Kollar Smith, continues to tweak the show. “We’re exploring music as a marking of your memories. Music as a time machine. Music as empowerment. It tells us where we’ve been, and helps us move forward.”
Feel free to sing along.
The Lamb’s Players’ production of “ MiXtape ” continues its extended run at the Horton Grand Theatre in downtown San Diego ( 444 Fourth Ave., between Island & J St. )
Performances are at 7:30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays (except January 19), 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm on Sundays, until February 27 (and perhaps beyond).
Tickets ($28-58) are available at 619-437-6000 or lambsplayers.org
Back home at their Coronado Theatre space, Lamb’s opens “Steel Magnolias” on February 4 (running through March 20).