- After seeing “Sizzlin ‘60s” last January, I wondered
how The Fireside Theatre could ever top that show, but
“Solid Gold 60’s” rose to the occasion.
for some repetition in the narrative text by that smooth host
Dan Embree, the array of songs was brand-new, which just
underlines the fact of the variety and richness of the music
created in that decade. Six out of the eight vocalists were
new also; Bianca Denis and Mathew Schwartz, the only
the inimitable Steve Watts and his cadre of fantastic
musicians, including Dave Wall, Nick Moran, Claude Cailliet,
Jim Doherty, Joe Gorman, Curt Hanrahan, and John Hibler,
provided the big band sound, and the bevy of talented
vocalists did the honors of delivering over 50 tunes in
the moment that Schwartz opened with “Oh, What a Night” by
the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, we sensed that we were
in for an electric melodic treat.
course, The Beatles had to be included in the mix, along with
Bobby Vinton, Louis Armstrong, The Beach Boys, the Supremes
and The Dixie Cups in the opening set. Derek Basthemer, who
was a very positive contributor in the Christmas show, did a
great rendering of Vinton’s “There I’ve Said It
Again.” His is a voice to remember.
talented Embree ties all the pieces together with his
allusions to some of the historic events that characterized
this era. Music often reflects the spirit of the times, and
that was certainly true in the ‘60s when change was in the
air and everything was being questioned, from the validity of
the war in Vietnam to sexual practices to civil rights and the
role of women. Embree can also deliver a tune with class,
which he proved with his memorable “Ringo,” written by
Bonanza’s Lorne Greene.
little humor was injected into the mix via references to the
show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” Several brave
members of the audience got involved in “The Limbo Rock,”
which was also quite amusing. I always admire those who are
willing to participate.
the British segment, songs from The Dave Clark Five,
Herman’s Hermits, The Foundations, Lulu and the Moody Blues
were some of the offerings.
All Over” was well executed by Schwartz, and Basthemer did a
nice job with “Nights in White Satin.” Shannon Lee Draper
has the perfect sweet voice for “To Sir with Love.” Her
hair sometimes hides her beautiful face, however.
Rolling Stones have to be included in any show about the
‘60s, and Steve Watts did the honors of soloing on “Ruby
Tuesday” and “Get Off of My Cloud.” He later almost did
himself in when he belted out “Born to Be Wild” by
Steppenwolf. When that man steps up, the audience goes wild.
the turbulent ‘60s segment, Eric Lewis blew us away with his
soulful “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” and Denis
gave us a very resonant “People Got to Be Free.”
Two featured California groups, including The Mamas and the
Papas, Burt Bacharach, Jefferson Airplane, and soul music,
represented by Marvin Gaye, James Brown and Etta James. Some
standouts in this section included “Monday, Monday,”
“The Look of Love,” “How Sweet It Is,” nicely
delivered by Albert Jennings, “I Feel Good,” one of Eric
Lewis’ best, and the classic Etta James hit, “At Last,”
beautifully performed by Denis.
final section was devoted to one-hit wonders. Sometimes, a
composer writes one song that makes the charts and then
disappears into oblivion. Brittney Morello’s “I’m Into
Something Good” was her best solo, and Ashley Joyce Bush’s
“Harper Valley P.T.A.” brought that number back with
what a musical era and what a splendid nostalgic trip to go on
Flesch and Mary Ehlinger did the directing, and Doug Reed the
by Robert Sharon, lighting by Jason Fassl and settings by Rick
Rasmussen also added to the ambience.