Boogie Nights

Date 17th May 2017
Society The East Cheshire Musical Theatre Company
Venue Peter Barkworth Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Matt Darsley
Musical Director Sam Davies
Choreographer Sally Hilliard & Heidi Fletcher

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

The 1970s struts shamelessly back in to Stockport as the East Cheshire Musical Theatre Company bring ‘Boogie Nights’ to the college’s Peter Barkworth Theatre.

‘Boogie Nights’ is a show which gets an unfair amount of bad press form musical theatre enthusiasts, I have no shame in admitting that this is a show I favour over several other titles which regularly trend on the amateur scene as it’s comical, upbeat, colourful and has a plot which wouldn’t be out of place on any soap opera (but with a bit of a twist!).   

This title also ticks many boxes for a society committee too when it comes to ‘picking the right show’ which is rarely an easy task – it has plenty of parts, it’s terrific for an all singing all dancing ensemble, only requires a small band and a simple set (big tick for the treasurer!), everyone knows the tunes and it’s a pretty high guarantee that everyone will have a good time.

Matt Darsley directed the production and also took the role of Terry, having to step in with just a few weeks to go, which - although commendable - did present a few problems. If Matt had been been out front during those crucial final rehearsals he would certainly have addressed the length of time it took to set up a small amount of furniture in those scene changes which unfortunately killed the pace, flow and energy of the presentation.

Matt’s vision was kept simple and the focus was as you’d expect, paying homage to the era and allowing the music to take centre stage.  

Choreography was kept in step by ECMT’s regulars Heidi Fletcher and Sally Hilliard. The dancing in ‘Boogie Nights’ can easily become the main feature of this show given the level of opportunities this score gives a choreographer, however, the movement was tailored to suit everyone’s capabilities and I respect the ‘keep it simple, keep it neat’ approach. There is a lot of movement in this show so taking ownership of it is not an easy undertaking if you have a cast of mixed abilities.

Musical Direction was in the hands of Sam Davies whose band honoured the genre and recreated the iconic disco sound for the production. More time with the sound technician to balance the sound of the players with each other and the vocalists to obtain a more favourable balance would have benefited the overall experience.   

Roddy, the front man of the show, was given a good swagger by Andrew Lee who stepped out of his comfort zone to present this cocky and idle cheeky chap. The biggest challenge with this role, over and above having to carry the show, is the importance of bearing the likability factor and to ensure that the audience are on his side which is quite a struggle when he’s so arrogant.

John Hilliard was the comedian of the evening as the Elvis fanatic, Eamon which he later flipped around to present some of the more heartfelt scenes in act II.

Katie Cradduck offered charisma-a-plenty in her performance as Lorraine, the lead singer of the nightclub, she belted out some good tunes and owned her time on stage with ease and poise.

Olivia Tringham played Debs, the sweet girl in love with a bad lad. Olivia delivered some good vocals in parts and portrayed a likeable character for the shows majority. My main address here is the tendency to appear sulky rather than heartbroken which portrayed some moments opposite to what’s desired, however, a confident and determined performance was given.

Some of the other principals came with a fair amount of inexperience and will no doubt have seen this project as an opportunity to explore a new hobby and have hopefully unleased a new passion for this zany and hugely rewarding past time!

The set was kept simple and didn’t eat into too much of the performance space, having the band positioned above the bar out of the way but remaining in view was a favourable decision.

Masses of nostalgia, plenty of vintage costumes and a plethora of brilliant songs, this production of ‘Boogie Nights’ had my feet tapping and found myself humming 70s dancefloor classics for days after!