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PHILIP KEY ARTS DIARY: Lively show is dancing party; THEATRE Boogie Nights Liverpool Empire.

Byline: PHILIP KEY

BOOGIE Nights is one of those shows that creates pure, pulsating energy in its recreation of 1970s soul music.

Occasionally, the temperature drops for a sentimental storyline but for most of the time it's non-stop dancing and singing.

And the dancing is pretty special - thanks to some outstanding routines from choreographer Alan Harding who comes up with novel ideas alongside the tried and tested.

Most notably Happy Days, with the cast sitting on the edge of the stage and doing some frantic unison arm, head and leg movements.

The show itself is a little odd in being part pantomime, part drama, part comedy and part song-and-dance.

Liverpool's Sam Kane plays Roddy, a 1970s disco fan with dreams of getting into the music business but with a girl-friend Debs (Sophie Lawrence) who is contemplating marriage - particularly when she finds herself pregnant.

Kane manages to get some audience reaction by the simple pantomime method of talking to them (''Is this the first time you have been an audience?'' he asks when reaction is not up to scratch). And he proves to have a good voice too, most notably on Sorry, which he belts out in grand style.

Sophie Lawrence (who played EastEnders runaway Diane Butcher) looks splendid in a series of outfits from flares and hot pants to shiny tight trousers and she too can sing, her version of I Will Survive a real cracker. She is incidentally also resident director on the show, working from original direction by Jon Conway.

Among the excellent supporting cast another Liverpudlian Joe Speare almost steals the show as the male chauvinist band singer Spencer whose deep, brown voice is heard to good advantage in You're My First, My Last, My Everything. And Don Crann supplies both comedy and sentiment as Roddy's crumpled Elvisloving Irish father.

But with a belting live band on stage directed by Simon Coles, it is the music with the exciting song and dance routines that remain most firmly in the memory.

Philip Key
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 24, 2002
Words:335
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