Boogie Nights, Norwich

JOHN LAWSON Musical meets pantomime in the feelgood musical Boogie Nights, the disco-based show packed with just about every 70s hit not featured in Saturday Night Fever – and even one or two that were.

JOHN LAWSON

Musical meets pantomime in the feelgood musical Boogie Nights, the disco-based show packed with just about every 70s hit not featured in Saturday Night Fever – and even one or two that were.

Like Rocky Horror, the Blues Brothers and Forbidden Planet, this show has taken on a life of its own with its fans – but unlike those shows I, as a first-time viewer, feel it is the poorer for it.

Unlike many compilation shows, there is a half-decent storyline – albeit a familiar one about young love, wasted opportunity and unwanted pregnancy – going on amidst it all.

But writer Jon Conway's efforts in putting this together are rather wasted given that the whole cast ham it up and play entirely to the audience.

It builds the crowd into such an “oh yes he did, oh no he didn't” frenzy that the serious moments, which could be quite touching and poignant, are instead punctuated by catcalls, sighs and inappropriate laughter from the auditorium.

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You could almost see the winces from some members of the cast as they lost the battle to inject a little dramatic gravitas into proceedings – but they only had themselves to blame.

Now before I get accused of being a complete killjoy, it could be argued that none of this matters: it's all to do with dressing up in flares, sparkly tops and platform shoes and having a good time.

And have a good time the audience certainly does, clapping and singing along with all those hits from the moment the curtain rises.

Sam Kane and Sophie Lawrence lead from the front, with Joe Speare and Stephanie Charles adding some real soul to proceedings.

Hayley Tamaddon and Kev Orkian provide the slapstick interludes – but away from their cardboard cutout comedy characters have great voices as well.

Simon Coles' five-piece band work away manfully, but their efforts are muddied by a sound mix which makes it seem like they are playing from the bottom of a very deep barrel.

It means a lack of support for the voices at times – bringing the guitars and the upper register further to the front of the mix would help.

But what can I say? – Sam, Sophie and the gang had the crowd having its own boogie night by the end.

t Boogie Nights continues at the Theatre Royal until Saturday October 19. Box office: 01603 630000.

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