Its definitely sex, drugs, and rock n roll, said Melanie Gaskins, the dance captain and part of the cast of the touring production, which stops Thursday in Olympia.
Excess was key to the eras charm, Gaskins added. People were living in excess. They were rocking out. Rock stars were acting like rock stars.
Everything was over-the-top fun maybe not the right kind of fun for everyone, but it was good times.
Critics describe the show in similar terms.
New York Times critic Charles Sherwood summed it up as a seriously silly, absurdly enjoyable arena-rock musical and described how the show brings back one notable excess of the decade: the hair.
The frothing piles of pleated, teased, bleached, dyed and fried tresses being tossed around in this new show about the good old days in this case the 1980s on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles make Hair look tame indeed, virtually Rogaine-ready, the Yul Brynner of musicals, he wrote.
And then theres the music. The show boasts more than 30 of the decades songs, originally performed mostly by bands notable for their abundance of, yes, hair. Think Bon Jovi, Journey and even Twisted Sister.
Nostalgia definitely is part of the appeal, said Gaskins, who grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., and has toured previously with both The Color Purple and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
We get a mix of people, she said. But the people who remember the 80s are the most vocal. They come ready for a party, and they are right there with us, screaming and singing along and putting their lighters up or their phones up.
But she said the show also has plenty to keep the interest of those too young to remember the era of leg warmers, neon and acid-washed jeans.
Its also a really great story, she said. Its a love story. Its about finding yourself and not getting lost in the big city, following your dreams and staying true to who you are. People can identify with that.
Unlike many in the cast, Gaskins does remember the 80s. I was a kid and copying my older cousins and wanting to do what they did and rock out like they did, she said.
She might have been young then, but she had the hair.
I wear this wig in the show, she said. It has a full big bang and a side ponytail with crimps. I wore my hair like that in the 80s.
I had big mega bangs.