‘Songbirds of the 70s’ sing it out in style
“Tell me something good,” sang Chaka Khan in the ’70s. The anthem rang true for that era of music. People were tired of the hippie and rebellion sounds of the ’60s and just wanted to have fun, love life and feel good. That’s what ’70s music was all about. The generation was personified by the iconic songstresses, now considered divas, of that time — Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, The Pointer Sisters and Donna Summer.
Wednesday night this writer was lucky enough to be at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s opening night of “Songbirds of the 70s,” and I’ve got ‘something good’ to tell you. The show was sexy, sassy, bold and beautiful. It made me get up and dance and at times brought me to tears.
This writer considers herself a 1970s junkie. It was the height of my teenage years when I moved back to Florida, having been born in Hialeah and growing up in and living in New Jersey. My “playlist,” so to speak, was all about vinyl — yes, that 12-inch black disc that was placed on a record player. The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Elton John, James Taylor, Carole King…well you get the gist.
In Florida I met some girls while working at a local mall after school; they were putting on fashion shows at local discos, and I was asked to help out. Suddenly I got whisked into the disco dance and funk craze of the 1970s. It was fun and light and made me want to dance.
I felt like I was transported back in time Wednesday night — the shiny glitzy fashion with bright bold colors, courtesy of Costume Designer Lisi Grinberg-Fluharty, as well as all my old favorite songs, with music direction by James Dodge II, were performed right before my very eyes. Though some of the audience members were a bit slower to react than this writer, we all were ready for some “Hot Stuff.” By the end of the night, I wasn’t dancing alone — half the audience got out of their respective seats to get happy.
The stars of the show: Jnana Cooper, Naarai Jacobs, Eboni Denise Lavender, Delores Elizabeth McKenzie and Tsadok Porter were breathtaking. I was mesmerized from the opening number of “I’ve Got the Music in Me” performed by the ensemble, to the closing number “If You’re Ready” performed by Jnana Cooper. The quintet performed more than songs by their ‘soul sisters’ of the era, they also performed hits by The Carpenters and Barbra Streisand. Naarai Jacobs performed Streisand’s “The Way We Were” and literally brought goosebumps to my arms and the audience to their feet with her rendition. At one point my guest said, “Are you believing what we are hearing? It’s incredible.”
There were many of those moments during the show, as well as times that were fun and funky. The quintet engaged the audience as well as played with a lucky chosen few. This is a must-see.
“Songbirds of the 70s” is the first original musical revue of the summer and is running through July 29. The show is written and adapted by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. Performances are set for 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. All tickets are $29.50 and may be bought online at WBTTSRQ.org or by calling (941) 366-1505.