Travel back in time with Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s ‘A ’70s Flashback’
Only 2 weekends left to see musical
What’s old is new again. For those who missed spending time in a bar during the pandemic, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s “A ’70s Flashback” provides an entertaining, immersive experience.
Written and directed by Lenore Giardina, the musical involves two present-day tourists stumbling into a local bar that turns out to be set in 1970s Breckenridge. A rockslide separated a band from its singers, so staff and patrons then decide to step in and help out by singing the songs on the band’s set list.
The bar is loosely based on the real-life Shamus O’Toole’s Roadhouse Saloon, which became the current home of Breckenridge Backstage Theatre. Though the name is never used, there are references to motorcycles parked in the bar, a shamrock on the show poster and other things Giardina heard about from locals.
The set is her interpretation of what it would have been like, with vintage signs and old skis. It comes complete with a working tap that pours beer from Broken Compass Brewing to serve the audience — also known as patrons — as cast members walk around the room organically.
It was first performed as a Thanksgiving weekend fundraiser in 2018. Backstage Theatre brought it back to provide feel-good escapism.
“The show is a culmination of my memories of television and music,” said Giardina, who also performs as a bartender. “My mom had an old record player, and I would just listen to ’70s music a lot of the time as a kid, spinning records and singing to it.”
Along with Giardina, the current ensemble consists of Randall Nations, Robert Jones, Michelle Marzo, Jon Hans, Rebecca Summer, Mikaela Clark and Laurie Rambaud.
It’s almost the entire original cast, but Giardina made the show longer, switched the original snowstorm to a landslide, gave the characters more depth and chose some different music with more upbeat songs. The soundtrack includes titles such as “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “Proud Mary” and “Roadhouse Blues.” A highlight for Giardina is Summer playing Cindy the bartender singing “Landslide” while sitting on the bar in the spotlight.
“It’s incredible, beautiful,” Giardina said. “My husband accompanies her on guitar. It’s just amazing. Really fantastic.”
Making the music is Tyler Easton on bass, Billy Merrill on keys and guitar, Leo Lopez on drums and Lenore Giardina’s husband, Greg Giardina, on guitar.
While some of the musicians aren’t familiar with playing for live theater, Easton did a lot of it when he used to live in Indianapolis. His only other Summit County theatrical performance was playing saxophone in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” with Lake Dillon Theatre Co. at Warren Station Center for the Arts in 2010.
Yet Easton said “A ’70s Flashback” is more fun than the other serious productions he’s done. The band is essentially a character itself, sitting in the corner of the bar like they really would as they interact with the rest of the cast requesting songs.
“It really captures the personalities of Lenore and her cast,” he said. “The characters are hilarious. Everybody plays them well because they’re just playing up a version of themselves.”
Rambaud is one of the newer cast members. She also happens to be Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s board treasurer. With a career in software, it’s unusual for her to participate, but she gets to combine her roles and make sure there is enough beer ordered for the working tap.
Rambaud plays one of the present-day tourists exploring the Breckenridge of years gone by.
“I’m wearing my Apple Watch, I’m complaining about missing my phone, all of those things,” Rambaud said. “There’s one scene where I get to play with a rotary phone because I want to check my voicemail, and I can’t figure out how it works.”
She’s thrilled to be in the show since she had to decline the invite to be in the original Thanksgiving version. Rambaud has also performed in the community productions of “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Annie,” “Shrek” and “Music Man,” which is what got her involved with Backstage.
“I’m all about the community show because I’m not a professional actor, and I don’t usually have time for a long run with my business,” Rambaud said.
Those who want the party to continue should visit Highside Brewing, 720 Main St., Frisco, as some cast members reprise songs during the free Party Like a Rockstar Halloween Bash on Saturday, Oct. 30. For now, “A ’70s Flashback” plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 16 at the Breckenridge Theater, 121 S. Ridge St., Breckenridge. Tickets start at $25 for adults. Visit BackstageTheatre.org to purchase.
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