Direction: Andrea Sanders (devised by Andrea Sanders)
Circa Theatre; Circa Two (August 10 – September 7)
Cringeworthy comes to us from Andrea Sanders – creator/leader of The Beat Girls. She’s created musical shows before (usually for The Beat Girls to act and sing in) here she stars alongside Tom Knowles, Carrie McLaughlin and Jeff Kingsford-Brown in a knowingly kitsch (but utterly clever and classy) tribute to the New Zealand of the 1970s. It’s about the songs. But there’s a narrative to drive us there.
If it feels a little like thin character-sketches at first – don’t stress. The marketing might scream “guilty pleasures” but this is full of classic material also. It’s an equal-opportunity nostalgia-trip back through the arrival of television to New Zealand and from there to a second channel (cleverly called “TV2”), through songs by Suzanne and Fourmyula, John Rowles and Mark Williams.
Knowles, McLaughlin, Sanders and Kingsford-Brown all nail the singing parts and the moves. We get the Jon Stevens of Jezebel/Montego Bay in sound and vision. Same with Anna Leah (Love Bug), Bunny Walters, Blerta and many more.
It’s frequently funny too – from remembering cheesy TV ads (Ches N Dale) to the OTT balladry and disco-fringe pop ‘classics’.
Kingsford-Brown might actually have been Rodger Fox in the 1970s. Sanders and McLaughlin are particularly fine mimics of the dance moves from the era and Knowles was both musically skilled and deftly comedic.
I was there on a whim, I left with a swing in my stride, a smile on the dial and many songs in my heart. At one point there’s a tease that the same team might bring us a show of local songs from the 1980s in a brand new show next year. My fingers are already crossed.
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