Ah, the ’70s. It was the era of American Top-40, one-hit wonders like the Bay City Rollers, England Dan and John Ford Coley and Morris Albert. The ’70s were also the heyday of Hollywood’s “disaster” films, which weren’t exactly Tinseltown’s finest hour.
But they provide plenty of campy fodder for "Disaster!," a song-and-dance spoof showing now at the Sacramento Theater Company. It packs in roughly 30 one-minute cover versions of throbbing disco hits and bubblegum soft rock anthems.
STC’s staging of this campy parody incorporates an earthquake, a fire, a shipwreck and a shark. But the pop culture satire leaves the audience with mixed feelings.
The show is a goofy and energetic, populated with stock characters such as a black disco diva down on her luck and a singing nun with a secret gambling habit. And there are several good comic performances, especially Jamie Jones as an aging suburban housewife afflicted by a whacky medical condition.
The show’s corny humor and rapid-fire one-liners reminded me of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, which I watched regularly as a kid. And I knew the lyrics to all the show’s songs; I heard ’em a million times on my car radio back in the day, and let’s just say that this was the music that eventually converted me into a confirmed public-radio listener.
Given my lack of nostalgia for the era, I’m probably not the best person to ask for an even-handed opinion of this show. In fairness, I did notice plenty of people around me smiling and having a good time — though for some of them it was clearly a guilty pleasure.
But for this reviewer, living through the dizzy pop culture of the ’70s once, in real time, was more than plenty, thank you.
The Sacramento Theatre Company production of "Disaster!" will be gyrating to a disco beat through May 12.
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