Rising Stars revive 70s for original show


The Riverdale Rising Stars (RRS) usually perform Broadway hits like “Hairspray” and “A Chorus Line.” But this month, they are putting on a totally original, made-in-house production.

It’s called “Can You Dig It? A 70s Love Story,” and RRS musical director Bob Walton wrote the whole thing — script, music and lyrics.

“So this is what I’ve been telling people,” said Chelsea Flores, a 21-year-old RRS alum who is playing the lead in “Can You Dig It?” “I’m telling them it’s a mix of ‘High School Musical’ and ‘Grease’ and ‘Footloose’ and all those really fun family shows, but with a 70s twist. So it really appeals to a lot of people,” she said.

Mr. Walton said part of the inspiration for the show came from Laurie Walton, the Rising Stars’ founder and director of performing arts. (She also happens to be married to Mr. Walton and directed this show.)

“Laurie is always every two months trying to figure out what show to do here. And you have all these opinions you have to take in, like the kids like a contemporary score, the parents like when there’s a lot of roles so they can see their kids have a few lines here and there, audiences like funny,” he said.

“Can You Dig It?” is a version of a show Mr. Walton wrote and the Rising Stars performed in 2009. Back then, it was called “A High School Musical, 1973.” For this time around, Mr. Walton edited it down from two acts to one, threw in some parts for adult actors and added a song.

“It’s been kind of fun to explain some of the pop culture references, because there’s a couple songs where it’s just crammed full of TV shows from the 70s, political figures, a lot of Nixon and Watergate, because it’s set in 1973,” he explained. “That’s what I remember from the first version, the kids were like ‘We didn’t think anything was funny,’ and then the audiences there who were filled with their parents who were my age and laughing a lot more.”

And the cast? Well, most of them may not have been alive during the 70s, but they still think it is a great play.

“The music is just so much fun, and the fact that you can kind of just add your own little flair to your character, it’s great,” said Ms. Flores, who now attends New York University. “Everyone’s really having fun.”

Jessica Lavery, who is playing the main “mean girl” and was also in the 2009 production, gave another reason to check the musical out.

“It’s a very unique opportunity to see a show like this, that Bob wrote and isn’t the shows you see over and over again like ‘Grease’ or ‘West Side Story,’” she said. “I know I’m always looking for new musicals to see, so this is really cool that it’s right here in Riverdale.”

Thursday, July 23 is the last time to see “Can You Dig It? A 70s Love Story.” The performance is at The Riverdale Y’s Neuwirth Theater, located at 5625 Arlington Ave. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Riverdale Rising Stars, Can You Dig It, Riverdale Y, Isabel Angell