Music

Radical. It's the Best of the '80s From Music Box Theater.

(L-R) Kristina Sullivan, Rebekah Dahl, Brad Scarborough, Luke Wrobel, Cay Taylor
(L-R) Kristina Sullivan, Rebekah Dahl, Brad Scarborough, Luke Wrobel, Cay Taylor Photo by Eric Edwards Schell photography
Bring out your velour, hair scrunchies, spandex, open-fingered lace gloves, leg warmers, grunge studded leather, big hair, shoulder pads, acid washed jeans, and anything neon, from jazzercise tights to jangly bangles. Practice such colloquialisms like “bodacious,” “hella,” and “grody.” It's time for Totally '80s, the sparkly, good times revue from Music Box Theater, now rockin' downtown on Colquitt through October 9. You could eat it with a spoon.

Fashion or linguistics might not have been the decade's greatest assets, but, ahh, what music. Pat Benatar, Bruce Springsteen, Hall & Oates, Sting without the Police, Tom Petty, Madonna, Lionel Richie, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Van Halen, Queen, Michael Jackson singing a love song to a rat, Whitney Houston, Prince, Bonnie Tyler, Journey, Meatloaf. The list is endless and encompasses such diversity it could only have arisen in the free-wheeling '80s when, among so many jaw-dropping moments, the Berlin War collapsed, Chernobyl melted down, the first woman Supreme Court justice sworn in, AIDS reported, Apple computer founded, terrorists destroyed Pam AM flight 101 over Lockerbie, and, the initial broadcast of MTV aired. A heady time.

Which brings us to Music Box's intro, The Buggles' “Video Killed the Radio Star” mashed up perfectly with Ozzy Osboune's “Crazy Train.” The Fab Five (Rebekah Dahl, Brad Scarborough, Cay Taylor, Kristina Sullivan, and Luke Wrobel) wail and strut with all their amazing theatrical power and vocal heft to leave us breathless...and wanting more. They deliver.

This fast-paced show, as if amphetamine-fueled, trips down memory lane. For some of us, it may be hard to remember with the blinding glint of a disco ball imprinted on our eyes, but, if you can, remember where you were when you first heard Hall & Oates' “Maneater.” If that's too hazy, listen to the libidinous sweetness that Scarborough overlays. His ultrasonic tenor, heard only by dogs as Taylor would wryly comment later, is one of the wonders of the world.


As in all their revues, each artist shines and is allowed a showstopper. As a quintet they are unparalleled, as soloists unequaled. Sullivan uses her crystalline soprano with unrestrained force in Benatar's “Love is a Battlefield.;” Wrobel channels Meatloaf in a dramatic rendition of Barry Manilow's “Read 'em And Weep;” Dahl blazes through Soft Cell's “Tainted Love” as if on a warpath,” and sensuous Taylor goes daffily gymnastic in Olivia Newton-John's “Let's Get Physical,” with the others joining behind her as if wayward backup from 24 Hour Fitness.

The entire evening is a romp. The band sounds especially lush, as it did in the group's last outing, The 10th Year Anniversary Show. Long Le (bass), Mark McCain (guitar), Arthur Gilligan (percussion), and Melinda Williams (keyboard) swing, roar, and purr. They don't accompany so much as augment and amplify the mood that the Five lovingly impart.

Trip Adviser lists Music Box as the “#1 Top Things to Do in Houston.” The aggregate web site isn't wrong. Enjoy the flashback. It's gnarly, tubular, and...totally.

Totally '80s continues through October 9 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Struadays and 2 p.m. Sunday, October 3 at Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt. For more information, call 713-522-7722 or visit themusicboxtheatre.com. $35-$48.
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D.L. Groover has contributed to countless reputable publications including the Houston Press since 2003. His theater criticism has earned him a national award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) as well as three statewide Lone Star Press Awards for the same. He's co-author of the irreverent appreciation, Skeletons from the Opera Closet (St. Martin's Press), now in its fourth printing.
Contact: D. L. Groover