I have a soft spot for theme park shows, especially those overseen by the genius Kevin Brunck at Kings Island. Somehow, he and his team (often Jeff Smith and Adam Blount, but others, too) can put together a medley so catchy and smooth that you don’t even think about the transitions. He’s done it again with this brand new show in the Festhaus of Kings Island that celebrates the decade when the park first opened.
One of my favorite experiences is discovering new talent, and this show is full of new performers to the Kings Island stage. I don’t know all of their names, but each cast member of the first two shows on opening day sparkled in moments, adding personality, vocal prowess, and fancy footwork. (See the update below for individual thoughts on each performer.)
With choreography from Wright State University Professor Greg Hellems and vocal direction from Jeff Smith (whose credits include heading up River City Band, composing work for The Rose Bowl Parade, and so much more), the show highlights his from the 1970s. Starting with radio chart-toppers, then spotlighting the amazing TV theme songs from the era, and following up with some of the best disco tracks ever produced, this half-hour show goes non-stop. Some short video packages remind us of the park’s 50th Anniversary, but the focus here is on the live performance. A nine-piece band with a horn section really blows (in the best way possible!) There are multiple costume changes, too.
In the two performances I watched before writing this review, the stars on stage never ran out of steam. It’s not an easy task, running the same production four times in one day, but this cast’s youthful exuberance and professionalism will keep this show fresh throughout its summer-long run. And with the company manager, Anna, at the helm, I expect nothing less.
Check out “The 70s! On Demand” in the Festhaus at Kings Island this summer at 1, 2, 3:30, and 4:30 everyday but Monday.
I better go – it’s almost showtime, and I wanna see it again!
July 10 – UPDATE: I’ve seen the show several more times and have cast info so I wanted to drop in a short update praising the talented folks who are singing, dancing – and sweating – four times a day, six days a week, for our entertainment.
Sometimes in these theme park show reviews, I only use first names. There are two reasons for that; one, I don’t always know the last name of the performer, but more importantly, there are unfortunately overly eager and enthusiastic audience members who have invaded the privacy of these young adults and I don’t like being an accessory to their difficulty with respecting boundaries.
Jack is an amazing dancer, who has a tremendous presence on stage. He looks and carries himself like a star.
Jeremiah is an all-around engaging performer, whose vocals are reliable each time I’ve heard him perform.
Hayden has a rich baritone and more energy than anyone else in the company. And his Archie Bunker impression is spot on.
Jaylen is joyful and shows great versatility in hard-to-sing songs like Kung Fu Fighting to Boogie Wonderland.
Adam (swing) anchors the company and brings the kind of professionalism you learn from performing on cruise ships.
Marcus (swing) has expressive eyes that draw you into his every word and movement.
Mallory is a superstar, and when she proclaims “I am woman, hear me roar,” I believe her.
Sydney seems like she’d be super fun at a party and her effortless performance of “Waterloo” is a show highlight for me.
Alexis has really settled into her track and looks so comfortable now. I am a sucker for belting, and she and the remarkable Claire (who is sensational in every way) face off on “Enough is Enough,” and I smile from ear to ear every time.
Molly (swing) is so connected to the material and locked in every time I’ve seen her that I assume she’s been on stage her whole life.
And I’ve yet to see the company manager, Anna, who also swings into the show, but I know where she was trained and saw enough of her at WinterFest to imagine that she is awesome here, too.
I know how hard it is to maintain a show like this all summer; after all, people are literally scarfing down mouthfuls of Panda Express and LaRosa’s pizza while they sing and dance their hearts out – but this show seems to be getting better and better each time I see it. Go check it out for yourself!