Theater Review: FOXY LADIES LOVE BOOGIE 70s EXPLOSION! (Three Clubs Stage Room as part of Hollywood Fringe)

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by Tony Frankel on June 15, 2024

in Theater-Los Angeles


Created and directed by Fritz Brekeller, this feminocentric musical revue of 70s hits, Foxy Ladies Love Boogie 70s Explosion!, celebrates an amazing array of songs from the smiley face decade, but does so with a tilt towards feminist empowerment. Using entire songs, themes (disco) and medleys (Donna Summer; classic Television themes; romance), seven astoundingly game women charge through this 100-minute compilation of over 70 songs (!) that will have you grooving and waxing nostalgic about the “Me Decade,” when that ubiquitous smiley face was banging into the dead ideals of the ’60s, a perfect lead-in to the Reagan era.

Nina Gosiengfiao; Erin Ortegon; Toni Lorene Baker; Karla Mosley; Devan Watring

What made this decade so special for music? Overall, the music of the 70s was a turning point from ‘50s and ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and blues to the modern music of today. The emergence of new genres and artists — a wide and interesting spectrum of genres, with disco, funk, and soul becoming arguably the most popular genres of the decade — would change the music scene permanently. In an essay on the ’70s, Tom Wolfe coined the phrase “‘Me’ Decade” as we moved away from a community-based structure to that of individualism, which is the centerpiece of the Foxy Ladies‘ score, here played with a smokin’ hot live band — Dan Lacey, bass; Nick Liberatore, drums; Mark Huhnke, keys; Erin Hawkins, cello; Michelle McGregor, trumpet & percussion —  led by Musical Director and electric guitarist Joel Rutkowski.

Erin Ortegon; Nina Gosiengfiao; Toni Lorene Baker; Charlotte Crossley;
Devan Watring; Tiffany Nicole Brevard; Karla Mosley

The seven distinctive performers and their archetypes are Charlotte “Charlo” Crossley (Mama), Karla Mosley (Diva), Nina Gosiengfiao (Free Spirit), Erin Ortegon (Girl Next Door), Toni Lorene Baker (Babe), Devan Watring (Boogie Love) and Tiffany Brevard (Swinger). When I tell you these FOINE ladies worked their butts off to explode all throughout Three Clubs Stage Room up-and-down aisles and sometimes in your lap, you’d best believe it. Not only are they constantly switching strategically placed props (uncredited), but then they change costumes quicker than you can say “Time may change me”. And I say “gimme some skin” to Stage Manager Amy Rowell and her assistant Rose Krol who keep the good vibes from falling apart.

Karla Mosley; Erin Ortegon; Toni Lorene Baker

And from fringe to hot pants to disco outfits, costume designer Veta Horwitz has a field-day with the cutest threads this side of, well, the ’70s. And the delightfully recreated boogie moves, along with a hint of modernism from choreographer Ashley Wren Collins are flawlessly executed by these Dancing Queens without sacrificing vocals (Ms. Watring is the dance captain). Everyone sounds swell, but in the “Oh-My-God-This-One-Is-Headed- for-Fame” Department is Toni Lorene Baker, who gave us soul-searching perfection in “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. And call me a male chauvinist pig, but Erin Ortegon has one of those brick house Playboy Bunny bodies that would’ve made billions in that era; Ortegon will just have to settle for millions right now as a singer/dancer/actress. Woof, that is one foxy mama.

Devan Watring; Nina Gosiengfiao; Toni Lorene Baker; Karla Mosley; Erin Ortegon

There were perhaps a few missed opportunities. The context of a musical revue is fun enough, a hazy celebratory trip through a hazy period in time, but what if things had been taken more seriously, elevating the show with some kind of annotation about where we are today and where we were in the 60s. I know it wasn’t Brekeller’s intent to do so, but it would have made the show much richer and more interesting — one that could actually have a full run (four screens were used and I longed for some type of photojournalism). With that in mind, the opening few numbers could have been much stronger.

Charlotte Crossley; Erin Ortegon; Nina Gosiengfiao (behind in hat);
Toni Lorene Baker, Karla Mosley; Devan Watring

Also, Vocal Director Joshua Bartley did a bang-up job with the cast’s harmonies and interpretations, but without head mics (which I really appreciated) the women sang with handheld mics or often from mic stands, and many did not know where to place the mics, so the balance was off and just a few songs were whispery. And hopefully, Ms. Crossley — a venerated exciting star of the stage — will be off-book in future performances.

Charlotte Crossley; Toni Lorene Baker; Karla Mosley (back to us);
Devan Watring; Nina Gosiengfiao

Don’t be surprised when one of the ladies asks you to get up and get down, so be prepared. The revue was good enough on its own that audience participation seemed unnecessary. Loaded with good vibes, the true lowdown is that this Hollywood Fringe show is far out, funky, groovy, nifty, off the hook, out of sight, radical, slammin’, and stellar.

photos by Richard Clark

Foxy Ladies Love Boogie 70s Explosion!
nice day productions
part of Hollywood Fringe Festival
Three Clubs Stage Room, 1123 N. Vine Street (Ages 21+)
remaining dates:
Sat, June 15 at 8
Sun, June 16 at 4:30
Fri, June 21 at 10:15pm
Mon, June 24 at 7:00pm
for tickets ($25), visit HFF

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