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Culture: Arts review: It's hardly the best in town.

Byline: Terry Grimley

Boogie Nights 2 Birmingham Hippodrome

'Do you remember when we set up Boogie Nights in the 1970s?' the hero, Roddy (Mark Jones), asks near the beginning of this musical nostalgia show.

'Yes,' comes the reply. 'But it's very different now it's the 1980s.' This simultaneously sets up the sequel to the long-running 1970s musical while reassuring the audience that this is not going to be King Lear.

Boogie Nights creator Jon Conway proudly claims that this 'genuine musical theatre sequel' is a theatrical first, but half-close your eyes and the sense of deja vu is overpowering. This bears a more than passing resemblance to an 80s musical from the same stable called Eternal Flame, which had a brief run five years ago.

Hit songs from the decade of monetarism and weedy keyboard sounds are loosely stitched on to a plot in which Roddy, having fallen out with business partner Spencer, falls from a burning building. Suspended between life and death, he is provisionally sent to Heaven, where his case is entrusted to Saint Peter - David Essex in a weird frock--coat-and-boots outfit that could have been the one Cliff Richard wore in Heathcliff (hardly used).

This is obviously too silly to detain

us further but never mind, it's only a pretext for a lengthy medley of 80s hits from the likes of Duran Duran, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Culture Club, The Specials and many more.

It's vulgar and trashy, but at least it's vulgar and trashy in a time-honoured tradition. This is a kind of new pantomime, a loose-fitting structure into which all sorts of reassuringly familiar material can be made to more or less fit The cast belt out the numbers and dance energetically and a large audience is sent home happy. Sophie Lawrence, once of EastEnders and now playing Roddy's on-off girlfriend, turns out to have quite a good voice, but Ally Holmes, as her catty Brummie rival, gave the performance I most enjoyed.

n Running time: Two hours 20 minutes. Until Saturday

CAPTION(S):

David Essex in unlikely 80s garb in Boogie Nights
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 16, 2005
Words:348
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