The iconic sounds of the 1970s will be showcased in three shows coming to Manalapan’s Plaza Theatre.

“I Write the Songs,” “Mandy” and “Copacabana” are a few of the songs of composer and performer Barry Manilow featured in I Am Music, a musical revue that opened last weekend.

With a cast of four men and women accompanied by glamorous dancers, the plot loosely strings together 24 songs as a group of friends put together a show bound for Broadway. Act one focuses on the romantic entanglements of the two couples as they assemble the production, while act two features the Broadway debut.

Plaza’s producing director, Alan Jacobson, knew Manilow’s tuneful melodies would be a hit for the new company, which took over the Manalapan strip mall space vacated by the now defunct Florida Stage more than a year ago.

While Jacobson knew local audiences would support “serious” theater, he wanted to reach out to a broader audience. And, in a tough economy, he had to keep his expenses under control.

“We’re staying ‘light’ right now with the revues,” he admits, “but we’re trying to put on good shows and get our work out there.”

While his young company has not targeted gay audiences, he has planned a season that will appeal to many. I Am Music will be followed next month with Don’t Rain on Our Parade, another musical revue, this time celebrating the hits of three gay icons: Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and Carole King.

Jacobson has cast three popular local singers, Missy McArdle, Shelley Keeler and his wife, Melissa Jacobson, to sing the divas’ hits. He promises wonderful arrangements, but no impersonations like audiences might expect at local gay clubs.

The summer is rounded out with The Way We Were, another revue, this time celebrating the diverse musical styles of the ‘70s.

“We’ll be portraying a musical journey, if you will, a look back from the late ‘70s to the end of the ‘60s and back again,” Jacobson explains. “It will be about hippies turning into yuppies and feature some of the lighter, popular music of the time period.”

He hints there may even be some disco, but expect lots of beautiful ballads and anthems, including “If Ever I Saw Her Face,” and “American Pie.”

While the musicals are fun and suit the resources of the new company, he’s also anxious to tackle some serious dramas. The remainder of the 2012-13 season includes Driving Miss Daisy, the story of a Southern matron and her African-American driver, in November and Next to Normal, the award-winning musical about a family’s battle with mental illness, set to run next January.

“I Am Music”

Through May 27

Plaza Theatre

262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan

For tickets and showtimes, go to