Its kitsch. It’s cheesy. It’s a glitterball extravaganza. And it’s the 70s. When music was good and fashion was bad. This is Boogie Nights.
And this is no normal touring show passing through Birmingham. This is the New Alexandra Theatre’s annual Stage Experience, an opportunity for local young performers to showcase their talents, working alongside a professional production team to put on a full-scale performance. And this year’s choice is the toe-tapping, finger-pointing, shoulder-shimmying jukebox musical of 70s Disco Hits “Boogie Nights”.
Auditions were held in May, rehearsals started on 10th August and tonight we were treated to a Press Gala on the second night of this limited 5 show run. Yes folks, you only have another two days to catch the stars of tomorrow in this fab show!
With a cast of over one hundred young people from the West Midlands involved and just two weeks to bring the production together, the result is astonishingly good. The Stage Experience is open for anyone between ages 9-24 who are able to commit two weeks of their summer holiday to developing their skills – either on stage or in a more technical or creative role backstage – and creating a top-notch professional performance. For some it is a fun summer activity, for others there is the hope that this will lead to a career in the theatre in future. Brummie comedian Joe Lycett is one Stage Experience alumni whose name you may recognise. As is our waiter from local chicken joint Bonehead (who you may not be so familiar with).
Tonight’s show starts with a standing ovation before we’ve even begun. Cast members pour down the aisles in their glittery droves, encouraging the audience to their feet. Dancing and clapping is positively encouraged and it’s a great way to get the crowd involved, even before the first scene.
We start with a wedding, and pass through five years in the life of Roddy (Elliot Gooch) and Debs (Isabella Kibble) accompanied by a whirlwind of 70s hits, which come so thick and fast they are often segued into one. Young love, parental relationships, domestic violence and teen pregnancy are all explored to a disco soundtrack. The iconic duet of No More Tears (Enough is Enough) is belted out by a lovelorn duo of Debs and Lorraine (Grace Williams), and a cast of builders, firemen, cowboys and sailors treat us to an enthusiastic YMCA. Melissa Huband is the perfect quirky sidekick as Trish, and Roddy’s dad Eamon, played by Liam Huband provides both comedy and poignant moments as he copes with the grief of losing his wife, Elvis, and his deteriorating relationship with his son.
But we’re never far from a lighthearted moment, and the show culminates with an ensemble disco medley which once again has the audience on its feet. A huge congratulations to everyone involved that pulled together such a wonderful feel-good show, and a great opportunity to see the stars of tomorrow performing on a local stage
To keep up to date with the latest news from the New Alexandra Theatre Stage Experience and find out how you can audition for next year’s production, visit: facebook.com/stageexperiencebirmingham
*I was invited to attend this press event by The New Alexandra Theatre, however this doesn’t affect my opinion of the show, and an honest review will be given in all cases.
**All Press Photos are used with permission of the The New Alexandra Theatre