Hollywood’s 1970s hit films resurrected in Fullerton

The Register  - Eric Marchese - Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Ever have those ’70s flashbacks – you know, the garish fashions, tie-dye, polyester leisure suits, disco, and Hollywood’s last hurrah before blockbusters and sequels aimed at youthful audiences began to dominate the marquee?

On Saturday night, most if not all of the above were resurrected via “Hollywood in Fullerton: ’70s Flashback,” a major hoopla produced by the Fox Historical Theatre Foundation as its sixth annual fundraiser.

No 1970s-themed soiree would be complete without live entertainment, so following the cocktail reception and silent and live auctions, attendees were treated to a live show offering a tongue-in-cheek tribute to (and, frequently, parody of) such megahit movies as “The Godfather,” “Jaws” and “Saturday Night Fever.” As much of the theater’s restoration has yet to take place, everyone was required to wear a construction hardhat with “’70s Flashback: 2009” emblazoned on it, all while witnessing a piece of history: The stage show was the first live performance at the Fox in more than 50 years.

Between 650 and 700 attendees were on hand, according to Tom Tice, president of the Fox Foundation’s board of directors, nearly filling the Fox’s 900 seats. Tice said he thought the event raised “$30,000 to $40,000 – and, we hope, maybe more.” The evening began with a cocktail reception and dinner and ended with dancing at Angelo’s and Vinci’s Ristorante. Silent and live auction items included several Fox Theater packages, while the opportunity drawing prize was a 7-day Caribbean cruise.

Guests were encouraged to wear ’70s attire, producing scads of afros and perms, bell-bottom pants, wedge-heeled shoes, leisure suits, peace signs and all manner of psychedelic colors and patterns.

Expert auctioneer Dawn Marie Kotsonis worked the live auction crowd, squeezing precious donations from all. The event’s highlight, though, was the live variety and multimedia stage show.

Each of the city’s four theater companies – FCLO Music Theatre, Hunger Artists Theatre Company, Maverick Theater and Stages Theatre – and its two colleges – Cal State University, Fullerton and Fullerton College – produced segments, some using film clips, others not.

FCLO Music Theatre and CSUF tackled the large-scale musical numbers from “Saturday Night Fever,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and a suite of James Bond films while the smaller theater companies and Fullerton College created short sketches parodying a string of films from 1970 to 1979.

“That ’70s Show”? Hardly. The show saluted the many great films to emerge from Hollywood during the 1970s, including “Star Wars,” “Superman,” “Animal House” and “Blazing Saddles.”

Entertainment captain Brian Newell introduced the stage show by saying that in 1950, the movie screen was covered up.

“This theater is a diamond in the rough,” Newell said, “but tonight, we’re gonna give her a little luster.” The stage show, which Newell co-directed with Sam Allen, Josh Dale, Tom Dalton and Todd Huffman, was also rough, with an under-rehearsed, makeshift feel.

Randy Gianetti created a raspy Brando voice as Don Corleone and did a fairly good Riff Raff/Meatloaf in an impressive staging of the “Time Warp” song from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” with strong work from Polly Seale as Magenta.

A “Jaws” segment with dead-on impersonations of Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw led to a mish-mash of “Star Wars,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “Superman, the Movie,” “Grease,” “Animal House,” “Halloween” and “Star Trek, the Motion Picture.” While the show was slapdash and disjointed, it did offer the evening’s attendees the chance to admire the athletic, highly polished dancing of Brad Carnation, Shauni Gerne, Rose Ouellette and Nico Ramirez and the superb musicianship of the eight-man onstage band while preparing for the after-party: dancing to the ’70s greatest hits at Angelo’s & Vinci’s.