Oh What a Night at the London Apollo Hammersmith
And the 70s revival keeps on a-coming. It's flared trousers, platform shoes and flapping collars down at the Apollo Hammersmith - and that's just the audience. Oh What a Night is the latest attempt to tap into the disco retro craze.
It's a pretty threadbare plot. Purportedly set in 1976, nightclub owner Paul (Michael Howes) is set to lose his club to his villainous manager, played by everyone's favourite nasty, John Altman. Fortunately the plot is foiled by Will Mellor s English musician, Rik, and club DJ, Brutus, played by 80s pop star Kid Creole. Oh yes, and Rik's in love with Paul's daughter, Nikki and naturally gets the girl (aw, you guessed it).
If the plot's pretty thin, the dialogue is even worse, or at least, the dialogue that can be heard is. Most of the cast, even miked-up, seem incapable of being heard. The really astonishing thing is that it took three people to write it. The notion of it being 1976 seems strange when so many of the songs were released after that year (in homage to Kid Creole, there's even a quick burst of 'Stool Pigeon', which was surely 1982). And why does the set include posters for Jaws and The Godfather, neither of which was from 1976?
Naturally, the real strength of the show is in the dancing. Director and choreographer Kim Gavin has put together an exuberant set of routines although some of the singing is a bit patchy.
The principal characters coast through their roles: Kid Creole really just plays himself and let's face it, no-one could wear a pink zoot-suit with as much style. The two proper actors, Howe and Altman look ill at ease and ham their parts up dreadfully. However, by far the worst performance was Mellor's. A truly appalling actor, he can't even redeem himself by his singing. His version of 'When I Need You' made one long for Leo Sayer s version (and that's not a sentence that's heard very often).
The best performances come from Lucy Moorby, who brings some life to Nikki, and Nigel Roche as the club doorman, Stretch. His over-the-top performance is by some way the best thing in the play and his version of YMCA brings the first half to a rousing conclusion.
So, a ridiculous plot, with lousy dialogue and terrible acting. The whole evening is a thin excuse to string together a succession of disco classics. Still, it was great fun - but only if you like this music.