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BOOGIE WONDERLAND (article first published : 2004-09-21)

Celebrate summer in outlandish 70s style at the Barnyard Theatre at Gateway with its new show Boogie Wonderland.

Boogie Wonderland is a legendary 70s disco, still owned and run by 60-year-old Leo. Now reluctantly at retirement age, he is dictating his memoirs to a ghost writer.

With the demise of soulful, weed smoking, dolphin worshipping, tarot reading, vegetarian, chickpea milkshake drinking hippies at the turn on the decade, Leo decided it was time for something special. In his opinion, the 60s were overrated. What was needed was a venue oozing the glitter and glam of the 70s, a club where Travolta was king and Elvis was queen and where the Bee Gees were beauties and Beatles were borer.

Leo saw a gap and opened Boogie Wonderland to a celebrity crowd in the spring of 1970. The club has seen some action in its time with some of the best DJs and live acts having trodden its boards. The 1970s saw pop music splintered into a multitude of styles which included the dance craze of the decade, disco, and its reputation of bad taste was well-earned. Platform shoes and hot pants, flared pants and polyester shirts, disco glitter, retro kitsch and no-future punk everything was tried, mixed, rejected and then served up again.

Endearingly authoritative, strict and mildly crusty, Leos days as a 70s sex symbol are numbered, if not over. With his typical managerial bravado, saved only by his intense love of the music of his time, he reflects on his years as a young 30-something upstart who catapulted his club to iconic status.

Scripted by Catherine Mace, Boogie Wonderland looks back at Leos life, introducing the musicians who brought his club to the fore while he regales audiences with anecdotes and far-fetched theories on the eccentricities of the era.

Narrated by Frank Graham, Boogie Wonderland, features vocalists Petro de Villiers, Claire Rowlett, Clinton Philander and Duane van der Linde. They are backed by a six-piece band fronted by Dawn Selby as musical director on keyboards, Johan Liebenberg on guitar, Rike Coetzer on saxophone, George Mari on trumpet, Mark Freel on bass guitar and Mali Sewell on drums.

The line-up of numbers includes Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Bette Davis Eyes, Call Me, Staying Alive, Live And Let Die, Dancing Queen, Grease Lightning and Daddy Cool.

Boogie Wonderland runs from September 28 to January 9, 2005, at The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway.

Tickets R85 (Buy One Get One Free on Tuesday night and Sunday matinees). Bookings and enquiries on 031 566 3045, e-mail gateway@barnyardtheatre.co.za or visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za




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