The ‘80s live! And so does ‘miXtape,’ returning to Lamb’s Players Theatre nearly a decade after its debut


When the ‘80s revue “miXtape” originally landed at downtown’s Horton Grand Theatre in 2010, it was all about celebrating that decade of MTV, big hair and weird pop-culture fixations (Cabbage Patch Dolls, anyone?)

Now, as Lamb’s Players Theatre brings the musical back in a brand-new production, it’s still about those things. But it’s been long enough since the original staging that the experience now is conceivably also about nostalgia for “miXtape” itself. (And to quote Moon Unit Zappa, that Bard of 1982’s “Valley Girl”: “Uh, I don’t know if I can handle this.”)

Kerry Meads, the show’s director then and now, says the new production will incorporate some changes, with about 15 percent fresh or revamped content. It also has a mostly new seven-member cast — and “a much more diverse cast, which I’m really thrilled about,” she says.

Maybe the biggest change is the location: Although Lamb’s is based in Coronado, “miXtape” never played there, spending its entire long life at the company’s then-satellite venue, the Horton Grand.

Now the show goes up at Lamb’s resident theater — all 200-some songs of it (or fragments thereof), with plenty of nods to ‘80s culture stuffed in between.

The original production of “miXtape” set a still-standing record as the longest-running homegrown musical in San Diego history; it was brought back again for a time five years after its premiere. The show was created by choreographer Colleen Kollar Smith (now managing director of Moonlight Stage Productions) and music ace Jon Lorenz, working with Meads.

Then as now, Meads and Co. had to cope with some unusual staging issues. For one thing, in the ‘80s, “women’s earrings were huge. But we can’t use them as much as we’d like to because they clank against the microphones.”

And a funny thing about nostalgia: It’s a very personal phenomenon, which is one reason Meads actually urges her actors not to try and do letter-perfect versions of the classic songs in the show.

“I don’t want them to mimic somebody — you’re not doing impersonations,” as she puts it. “Obviously you want the flair and the sensibility, but you want to make it your own.

“Because partly it’s about how you remember things.”

By the numbers

Years that ‘miXtape’ ran in its original staging at the Horton Grand Theatre: 3

Performances during that run: 760

Songs (and song fragments) in the original production: About 130

In the new version: About 200 (as the show was being rehearsed)

Weeks that the top-charting song of the ‘80s, Olivia-Newton John’s “Physical,” sat at No. 1 in 1981-82: 10

Worldwide box office of “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial,” the highest-grossing movie of the ‘80s: Almost $800 million

Current world-record time for the solving of a Rubik’s Cube: 4.22 seconds

Instances in which anyone on Earth has understood the title of Phil Collins’ 1985 hit “Sussudio” (Collins included): 0


When: Previews begin June 12. Opens June 23. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 7:30 p.m Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Through Aug. 11.

Where: Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado

Tickets: $18-$78

Phone: (619) 437-6000