Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.

This Ain't No Disco

“A visual and aural assault course”

With a with a title like This Ain’t No Disco it’s tempting to reply that this ain’t no musical, either. Instead, it’s an impressionistic jumble of songs and scenes that aim to recreate the spirit of the late 1970s and early 1980s club scene in New York, and in particular the heady cocktail of music, dancing, sexuality and celebrity around Manhattan’s iconic Studio 54.

So we get name-checks of some of its more famous patrons like Liza Minnelli, Elton John and Bianca Jagger, and a character simply called the Artist who’s blatantly modelled on Warhol (he even gets to spout his line about “15-minutes of fame”). As played by Will Connolly, the latter wanders through the action distractedly, with hair like a kitchen mop. What we don’t get, at least with any substance or continuity, is a through-line of character or plot, as a succession of different people vie for attention and stage time.

It’s impossible to get to know or care about anyone and Darko Tresnjak’s relentless production is a visual and aural assault course, with dizzyingly blinding lighting from Ben Stanton, and a set of scaffolding platforms and projections that recall the milieu of another grungy club-land musical Rent.

Co-composers Stephen Trask (creator of the 1998 underground cult hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Peter Yanowitz offer a succession of pulsating electronic beats from which tunes only intermittently break out.It was enough to make me nostalgic for the Pet Shop Boys 2001 musical Closer to Heaven, which at least had some great melodies.

For anyone who wants a real reminder of disco excess, Summer, the biographical musical based on the life of Donna Summer, at least comes with a slew of great, familiar tunes.

Related to this Review

Straight White MenStraight White Men

Production Details
Production nameThis Ain't No Disco
VenueLinda Gross Theater
LocationNew York
StartsJune 30, 2018
EndsAugust 12, 2018
Running time2hrs 30mins
ComposerPeter Yanowitz, Stephen Trask
Book writerPeter Yanowitz, Rick Elice, Stephen Trask
LyricistPeter Yanowitz, Stephen Trask
DirectorDarko Tresnjak
Musical directorDarius Smith
ChoreographerCamille A Brown
Set designerJason Sherwood
Lighting designerBen Stanton
Sound designerEmily Lazar
CastChilean Kennedy, Krystina Alabado, Lulu Fall, Peter Laprade, Samantha Marie Ware, Theo Stockman, Will Connolly
ProducerAtlantic Theater Company
VerdictAmbitious but misfiring clubland musical about the iconic Manhattan nightclub Studio 54
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Mark Shenton

Mark Shenton

Mark Shenton

Mark Shenton

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Linked In