Ah, the 1970s: bright colors, bold bell bottoms and clogs, “Saturday Night Fever” and disco balls, ABBA and David Bowie, afros and Farrah Fawcett hair, shag carpet and lava lamps, “Star Wars” and “Jaws,” VW Beetles and daisy decals.
And the smiley face that popped up everywhere – on everything – in the 1970s could rightfully be called the world’s first emoticon. (Though that was a time when engineers worked with stories-high computers, not yet imagining the wireless world that would rest neatly in the palms of their hands years later.)
But the 1970s weren’t all fluff. There was also Watergate, the Black Panther and women’s liberation movements, environmentalism, oil shortages and, with the end of the Vietnam war, an increasing awareness of the vulnerability of our world in a nuclear age.
Politics aside, this weekend’s focus is on the innocent and infectiously fun side of the decade. What better time than now to return to the 1970s? And that’s exactly what the Dixon Community Players will do in the group’s latest production, titled, “Reliving the ‘70s: A Musical Revue.”
“If you love Broadway, pop, soul and disco music, singing, acting, dancing and comedy, then this is the show for you,” said co-director Cynthia Freeman-Valerio. “There will be so many recognizable tunes, no matter how old you are, that include everything from hit musicals to soulful classics with disco, country, reggae and punk thrown into the mix.”
“Reliving the ‘70s” will debut Friday (Oct. 6) at The Toolshed, 68 State Road 75, in Dixon, with additional performances on Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 7-8), as well as the following week (Oct. 13-15). Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m.
“To follow up the extraordinary success of last year’s ‘Back to the ‘60s’ revue, we’ve imported a talented group of musicians from all over Northern New Mexico to create and produce ‘Reliving the ‘70s,’” continued Valerio, who, in addition to co-directing, will be one of the featured singers.
Holly Haas, who founded the group a decade ago and is its creative director and set designer, noted there was a standing-room-only crowd last year and expects a similar response to this production. “It’s music that everyone knows, so it’s more of an event than a performance. Everyone has a great time singing and dancing along,” Haas said.
“By the 1970s, television had become a part of our lives; it was what we did for fun. So in this revue, our intent is to bring back that feeling we had about TV, like the well-known commercials and musical comedies,” she explained. “The show is about giving that fun to the community.”
Valerio agreed. “And it’s amazing how much energy we get back from the audience participation at these revues. People converge from all over, and the shows get bigger than just themselves.”
Valerio and Haas are joined in the group’s creative team by Rick De Stefano (music director/vocals), Dick Padberg (band leader/guitar), Gay Klinger (stage manager/costume coordinator), Sheila Schiferi (vocal director) and Simon Feavearyear, who owns The Toolshed and also provides lighting direction.
“We have an incredible cast of 28 singers, including many new performers to the Dixon audience from Taos, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Pojoaque, Española, Peñasco and, of course, the Embudo Valley,” Valerio said. “Joining us again from the ‘60s revue will be Claire Singleton from Los Alamos and Kristen Woolf from Taos, adding a little slice of opera to our pop variety show.”
“Our fabulous band has both Sheila and Rick on keyboards, Dick on guitar, Chris Molla [bass], Richard Kline [drums], Rob Dunham [saxes, EWI] and Terrance Martinez [trumpet]. Rick, Dick and Sheila also add vocals. It’s very exciting to have a live band of this caliber and level of professionalism accompanying a cast of fabulous singers in a community theater show,” she said.
The spot-on vintage fashion is provided by Peñasco artist Jean Nichols, from her WEARhouse of upcycled fashion.
In the 10 years since Haas got this group off the ground, its website notes, “To date we’ve put on [eight] major musical productions, [two] plays and several other theatrical events which have raised over $15,000 for various local organizations including Dixon Animal Protection Society, The Embudo Valley Library and the Dixon Elementary School.”
The nonprofit organization also facilitates a summer drama camp for 30 local children from Dixon, Peñasco and Velarde.
It’s clear the Dixon Community Players can make Northern New Mexico feel good – in more ways than one.
Tickets for each performance are $15 and $12 for seniors and students. They may be purchased online at dixonplayers.com or at the Embudo Valley Library (215 State Road 75). For more information, call (505) 579-9102.