Filichia Features: DISCO INFERNO Offers Hot Stuff, Baby, Tonight

Filichia Features: DISCO INFERNO Offers Hot Stuff, Baby, Tonight

The story is more than 400 years old and yet is still going strong.

Historians estimate that in 1587, Christopher Marlowe took a German legendary figure and made him the central character of his Doctor Faustus. Since then, many variations have emerged where a man trades his soul to the devil for what he most wants out of life.

The most famous musical version is, of course, Damn Yankees, where Joe Boyd agrees to devilish terms to become baseball superstar Joe Hardy.

But there's another musical that took its inspiration from the well-known tale: Disco Inferno. It premiered in 1999, which makes it an early jukebox musical, a genre that's now a staple of musical theater.

We're back in the '70s, when disco was the musical rage. Deejay Terry starts the show by urging everyone in the club to "Celebrate good times - come on!"

Londoner Jack Green is determined to make it to the top of the musical scene. Every night he's at the city's up-and-coming Disco Inferno.

But he's the club's bus boy.

Still, Jack hopes that being where the action is will have him meet the right people.

His boss Duke believes in him. His opinion might mean something, for he was a one-hit wonder with "Crocodile Rock." Duke also urges him to appreciate Jane, Jack's girlfriend of six years. (They met the day The Beatles went public with their break-up.)

Jack agrees, and sings "You to Me Are Everything" to Jane, who returns the compliment.

"Everything" is a big word, though, and everything will change once Lady Marmalade enters the club and demands some "Hot stuff, baby tonight." One reason she's hot is her place of business: Hell. She's the devil's emissary who's here to buy Jack's soul.

He sells it and is soon replacing the disco's star attraction Heathcliffe and the Fallen Angels. Although that group's rendition of "All out of Love" has excited club patrons, Jack enjoys an even bigger success with "Instant Replay." Heathcliffe tries to get the audience back with "Ballroom Blitz," but go fight the devil.

Jack gets an offer from a bigger venue and a recording contract. The name of the record label? Diablo, of course, run by Nick Diablo. (Here's an excellent role for your most flamboyant actor who'll enjoy singing "Pop Music.")

Nick changes Jack's clothes and surname to Flash. And if Heathcliffe doesn't have enough problems, his girlfriend Kathy is suddenly attracted to this flashy superstar-to-be who'll soon have lots of jack.

Jack brushes her off and rushes on stage to do "I Love the Nightlife" and "Disco Inferno." Soon he's crossing the pond to be on Dick Clark's American Bandstand where he'll do "Starman." When Dick asks who's the woman behind the man, Jane is devastated when Jack says "Lady Marmalade."

Matters exacerbate when Jane suspects Jack's seeing Kathy. He isn't, but this complication does affect his mood when he returns to Disco Inferno to sing "Groove Medley."

Jane's response to being neglected? "I Will Survive" - and Jack's rejoinder to that is "Sorry Seems to the Hardest Word." When that doesn't work, "Don't Give Up on Us, Baby."

Jack has bigger problems when Lady Marmalade gets him into an automobile accident that sends him to "Devil Gate Drive" where there's plenty of "Fire." But you know musical comedy, where things always work out.

A disco is always crowded, so you'll meet Jack and Jane's many friends who get their moments to shine: Tom ("Some Girls"), Kathy ("Street Life"), Maggie ("I Love to Love").

You might ask your area's local bands, be they rank amateurs to solid professionals, to play Heathcliffe and the Fallen Angels and/or backup to everyone else. Get a group on the rise, and you'll get a rise in attendance from people who don't often attend musicals.

Disco Inferno can involve some audience participation. The authors have suggested that before the show begins, Terry can sing or play songs from the era and give out prizes to those who can identify them. After all, who wouldn't want to go home with an 8-Track tape player, a pet rock or a pair of earth shoes?

Kids will enjoy seeing what their parents or even grandparents were into when they were twentysomethings. In the end, Disco Inferno will probably most please those who were in their salad days in the '70s and have since entered - well, their entrée or dessert days.

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