Shauna Hicks
Shauna Hicks
Shauna Hicks is on-stage for a little over an hour at the Triad Theatre, working her way through a treasure chest of 1970s pop music, and she doesn't stop glowing the whole time. Above and beyond her more than remarkable singing chops, Hicks as a performer is bright-eyed, forthright, and hilarious. The story of the singer's poignant young girlhood in Neenah, Wisconsin is slight but sweet, and the performance on the whole is utterly charming. Shauna Hicks and Her '70s Mix is a small show, but a gem.

Naturally, the songs are a hoot. Hicks applies her cheery, earnest tones to everything from Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" to Don McLean's "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)" to the Bacharach/David (by way of The Carpenters) classic "Close to You". The show opens with two numbers from opposite ends of '70s pop's ideological spectrum, as Helen Reddy's strident "I Am Woman" segues right into The Patridge Family's "I Think I Love You."

With such divergent messsages surging from her AM radio, it's no wonder little Shauna was all mixed up. It didn't help that she was coming of age in the cold American heartland; waiting for the bus in her lumpy snowmobile suit, trying to reconcile her confused admiration for the strong, bra-burning "sisters" on TV with her own intense desire to become a woman and a sex object. So Hicks stuffs her bra, hilariously, to the music of the Jackson Five. She moons over two "Nature Boy Princes"--hippie McGovern campaigners--and then watches, fascinated, as they hold hands and kiss. She makes out with her first true love, but loses him because all she'll do is make out.

Hicks is adorable in relating these incidents. The show pivots on her personality, both as a singer and a storyteller, and she delivers--amply. A potential problem faced by Hicks in putting the show together is the fact that a lot of '70s music is garbage. Granted, some of these songs hold up incredibly well: Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly," for example, or the Jacksons' "The Love You Save." But even the most gifted interpreter can't do much with items like "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" other than not sing very much of them--which, thank God, is exactly what Hicks does: She gives us just enough of the real stinkers to elicit ironic, nostalgic chuckles, then quickly moves on.

By the end of the evening, Hicks is off to college, wondering what the future will bring (while the projection screen behind her shows a startlingly youthful Ronald Reagan on the cover of Time) and finally coming to terms with the scary messages of those liberated "sisters." But it's not the story of Shauna Hicks and Her '70s Mix that keeps us engaged, it's the fun of the songs. Even more so, it's the fun of watching Shauna Hicks being Shauna Hicks.

This incandescent performer previously presented a well-received, long-running club act titled Shauna Hicks and her '60s Chicks. We can guess what'll happen to our heroine if future sequels follow her through the '80s and '90s and into the 21st century: She moves to New York and becomes a big star.