“Boogie Nights – The Musical” by Heanor Musical Theatre Company.
Mansfield Palace Theatre
Mansfield Palace Theatre
Roddy O'Neill is busy dreaming of life as a rock star! Debs, his girlfriend, has her own thoughts... basically that Roddy's a selfish, arrogant, horrible, unfeeling, rude, heartless pig! But the truth is that Roddy is in love with Debs, and Debs is in love with Roddy, but Debs knows that Roddy has more than a roving eye! Through all their tears and laughter - can they both find what they are truly searching for?
The musical starts with a wedding scene and Debs is looking lovely as the blushing bride. Roddy then relates how they got to this day, starting from the day that best mate Terry dared him to ask Debs out on a date. The ending comes full circle but there's a twist, well there always is..... isn't there?
For those who are too young to have experienced a 70s nightclub, this will be an eye opener. For those of us not too young (only just) it will be a nostalgic hustle down memory lane. I am quite proud to say that as a teenager I started my mobile DJ days in 1979 – two years after this story is set, but retro enough to count. The story is set around the day that Elvis Presley died - 16 August 1977 and that also is relevant in this story line..
If you can imagine being at the best wedding or retro party ever, then this is the atmosphere music wise because it has one of the best soundtracks around for a retro musical. “Ladies Night”, “Celebration”, “Blame It On The Boogie”, “You Sexy Thing”, “Kung Fu Fighting”, “Bye Bye Baby”, ”No More Tears”, “Play that Funky Music”, “Disco Inferno”, “I Will Survive”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “YMCA”… I could go on.
Part written by Shane Richie, this could be looked on as part autobiographical, as Richie was a jack the lad in his days of a holiday camp entertainer, dreaming of being a rock star and taking full advantage of the entertainer status,
There are several very good vocalists in this theatre group, Tom Lucking(Roddy) gets to wind the audience up with his sexist attitude but he really shone when he sang "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word". Very classy, and the ensemble backing made it sound like a church choir.
Katie Ward (Debs) also gets to show off her brilliant vocals on "I Will Survive" as well as in a spine tingling duet with Adela Green (Lorraine) with "No More Tears - Enough Is Enough" and the mash up of "Last Dance" and "Reach Out I'll Be There"
Adela has one of the really powerful voices and boy can she hold a long note! Her vocal skills made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, in a good way.
Adam Carpenter (Terry) provides the "not the sharpest knife in the box" character but makes a lovely pairing with Gemma Blake as the loyal girlfriend to Terry as well as Debs.
Roddy's Dad, Eamon is played by Roger Bode, and Eamon is the Elvis fanatic.
Spencer, the singer in "The Love Machine" duo - with Lorraine - is played by Paul Mills who performs an interesting version of "You Sexy Thing". Spencer also gets to wind the women in the audience up by being a controlling bully and drug dealer.
DJ Dean is played by Kheenan Jones, who I'd have loved to have seen perform this role a bit more over the top for a retro club DJ, but loved the cheesy behind the deck dance moves.
Simon Ward (Baz the Bouncer) whipping the female audience members into a frenzy and encouraging them to provide audience participation throughout and to get up and party.
The live band recreated the 70's sound, and I loved the power from the pit. Under the Musical Direction of Lisa Mills she steered the retro inspired quintet, James Bowden and Birthday boy Martin Lewis on keyboards, Nick Alexander on guitar, Richard Hair on bass and Dave Shipley on drums.
Loved the set and especially the projection scenery by sceneryprojections.com. That with the colourful light show and set design by Paul Young made this production a visual delight.
Choreographed by Laura-Jane Jacobs, she made the ensemble pieces an exciting watch.
Directed by Patricia Church, she injected an energetic feel to the running of the production. There were a couple of places that could have been tightened up, bit this was opening night, things will be tighter on Day 2 onwards.
I know some may feel that the sexist jibes and attitudes of some of the male characters could be insulting but that is the way that Richie, Jon Conway and Terry Morrison created the script. This was the 70's and that caveman attitude was rife - remember "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease" both had sexist pig characters. This is written in to extract audience reaction, and it succeeded, but in a jovial way because the women did get the upper hand in the end.
The musical is not meant to be a serious piece of theatre, just a good night out with a brilliant soundtrack - some bits better than others - and essentially fun and fluffy. There are some serious moments which come as a welcome break from all the dancing, singing and joking around. On all accounts it delivered.
Wonderful energy, some marvellous vocals, lovely ensemble work, a great soundtrack and some brilliant costumes, but through all this, somehow I just felt that there was something missing and I don't know what that was. It sparkled and fizzed, it just didn't explode. That said I have seen this musical a few times and I felt the same way with the professional touring production.
“Boogie Nights” is the best in town until the last dance closes the run on Saturday 21 April 2018 at the Mansfield Palace Theatre.