Boogie Nights

Date 28th April 2012
Society Sale & Altrincham Musical Theatre
Venue Sale Waterside Arts Centre, Manchester
Type of Production Musical
Director Christine Meadows?
Musical Director Ian Christensen

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

The 1970’s: an eclectic mélange of post-Beatles glam, disco and punk, an era when most people had the best years of their lives … so my parents say!

Like most modern musicals, Boogie Nights doesn't have much of a plot, it's simply an excuse to have a great time and sing along to songs made famous by the likes of the Village People, Hot Chocolate, Donna Summer, Barry White and Rod Stewart. But unlike Mamma Mia, for example, the storyline isn't contrived so that you can guess exactly which song is coming next.
Boogie Nights was created as a new vehicle for Shane Richie after he'd played the lead in Grease, the idea was to put together a show based around British rather than American culture and to feature popular music.

This was a show in which those on stage feed off the audience and vice versa leading to some highly comical moments, with the performers occasionally struggling to suppress their own laughter. The 70’s themed fancy dress costumes and many wigs (so bad they’re good) brought the era to life!

The versatile set of double sided trucks looked fantastic though, having trucks on wheels is surely designed to make scene changes quicker, this was not the case, my biggest bug bare is slow scene changes and during this show, each change took far too long.

I know the Director had encountered some casting trouble along the way but you certainly wouldn’t have noticed this from the performances, the principals who joined in with just 4 weeks to go gave performances as equally confident as the rest.

The strongest delivery was given by Emily Knutton as Debs, she didn’t ‘over-do-it’! Part way through I questioned whether she was holding back when actually, she drew me in, adding a little depth and interest to her character which, with a script as thin as this, is quite an achievement!

Eamon, an ageing rocker still star-struck by Elvis is a great, if not my favourite character in this show and Les Kinsey played him with gusto.

The choreography was a little bland and uninventive for my liking, this is a show for dance to be a front runner, we were indeed entertained by some competent dancers but the moves and pattern formations were mild and uninspiring, the ensemble were clearly given a lot of freestyle / do what you want sections, yes I understand this is a show for the cast to have fun but too much freestyle can look a little dull.

Mark Frampton as Roddy gave a confident performance as the cocky guy you love to hate. Despite having the only hairstyle amongst the cast which wasn’t authentic he did have the perfect charm and swagger. He performed the upbeat numbers stronger than the ballads as he used his character and cheeky appeal to get him through.

Technically, the lighting design was well constructed and looked fabulous fitting the mood of the show, I think we could’ve got away with all mics (band and cast) turning up a couple of notches to give this fun and poppy show more of a punch volume wise but other than that, technically, it was a strong production.

The band sounded authentic and I must give a special mention to Ian Christensen (Musical Director) who did make me chuckle conducting this funky band with his baton, play that funky music white boy!

Boogie Nights doesn't profess to be anything other than a fun, energetic show to make you feel good. It doesn't take itself too seriously either, it’s where having a good time is compulsory!

Many thanks and Congratulations SAMT!