staff photo by Robert Kelly-GossEncore performers (l-r) Dale Brandt, Pearl Kelly-Goss, Lauren Luther and Joel Taylor rehearse
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staff photo by Robert Kelly-GossEncore performers (l-r) Dale Brandt, Pearl Kelly-Goss, Lauren Luther and Joel Taylor rehearse "8-Track," Monday night. The musical revue honoring the best of 70s hits opens Friday at the Maguire Theatre.

‘8-Track’ celebrates the music of the ’70s

By Anna Goodwin McCarthy


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You may still have an 8-track tape in a forgotten box in your attic under your tie dyed shirt and plaid bell bottom pants. You don’t need to dust off the relic. The 1970s era songs from this outmoded device have been revived with Encore Theatre Company’s musical production of “8-Track The Sounds of the 70s.”

Four talented singers perform more than 40 songs from the 1970s that will undoubtedly have you downloading past favorites onto your iPod before you can say “Get Ready” and “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

With endless energy and seamless transition the actors on the stage tell a story of love and friendship during the 1970s through song with no dialogue.

“People are going to be in their seats tapping their toes entertained by the sheer joy of song,” said the director of the production, Erin Garrett.

Garrett said she was on the reading committee for Encore when she read the musical written by Rick Seeber and “fell in love with the music.”

“I’m smiling as I am reading this,” said Garrett about the music she knew would bring joy to audiences.

Seeber was able to combine songs to produce and up tempo production that never waivers in grasping the audience’s attention.

Garrett said an open call for actors sixteen and older led to a cast of four who “worked so hard” since rehearsals began in January.

With no character names, the four actors are referred to as the Soprano, Alto, Baritone and Tenor.

Dressed in white high heeled boots and a colorful 1970s dress and headband with peace sign earrings, Pearl Kelly-Goss portrays the Alto. Garrett describes the Alto character as a strong feminist who sings “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar.”

At 17, Kelly-Goss, exudes confidence in her role with a strong presence and voice.

Kelly-Goss said one of her favorite songs she performs during the show is “Don’t Cry Out Loud.”

Sixteen-year-old Lauren Luther is the flower child Soprano

adorned in bell bottoms, a vest with fringe and flower headband. Her voice radiates the stage with songs like “You Light Up My Life” and “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.”

Both actors trained as Center Players at the Arts of The Albemarle and participated in various performances with the group. It is Kelly-Goss’s sixth Encore Theatre Company production and Luther’s second.

Born long after the popularity of the 8-Track device, the actors said they were familiar with some of the songs before they began rehearsal, and they are sure all ages will be entertained by the musical.

Kelly-Goss said audiences will “have a good time.”

With his first role in an Encore production, Joel Taylor portrays the Baritone uplifting the audience with “I Write the Songs” and “Takin’ It to the Streets.”

Taylor dazzles the stage in a silver sequined vest in a disco portion of the musical.

“I have been singing all my life,” said Taylor who owns his own recording studio, Albemarle Sound.

Taylor said he wanted to participate in his first Encore production to “have the experience.”

Dale Brandt portrays the Tenor immediately transporting audiences back in time with “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” Brandt walks onstage with his pet rock, and sings “Alone Again (Naturally)” as a romantic gesture is ignored and the character is all alone.

“It is a trip down memory lane,” said Brandt referring to the 1970s music.

Prior to this role, Brandt portrayed Herr Zeller in the Encore production of “The Sound of Music.”

With each song, the actors move to the rhythm of the music in familiar 1970s dances in a graceful display choreographed by Velda Jones. Under the guidance of Steve Raisor, the actors’ voices are the stars of the show in a musical that will delight and engage audiences.

The progression of the musical flows seamlessly under the direction of Garrett and Stage Manager Dean Schaan.

“The set is very minimal,” said Garrett as different lighting reflects off the brick wall at the back of the stage and actors move on a small platform and across the stage.

Garrett said she encourages audiences to dance and sing.

The actors have “nailed the emotion of the songs,” said Garrett. “There are moments when I have goose bumps.”

“From beginning to end it’s musical fun,” said Garrett.

Tickets may be purchased for $16 at the Arts of the Albemarle. Performance dates and times are April 25-26 and May 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee on April 27 at 2 p.m.

Call the Arts of the Albemarle at 252-338-6455 for more information.