IN THE BEGINNING, there was disco, and it was bad. And even when we thought it was dead, like Jesus, it kept coming back. Twenty-odd years after The Captain & Tennille vanished from the face of the earth, innocent folks are still haunted by cheesy synthesized dance tunes. It has to be the work of the devil.

Perhaps the brilliant brother and sister team of David and Lisa Koch, who authored Boogie Oogie Oogie, had some seriously overdue bills. Maybe the IRS, or even the Mob, was after them. Or maybe they really were under the influence of old El Diablo himself. There just has to be some logical explanation for why two of the cleverest satirical minds in Seattle theater would stoop to produce a mindless 1970s disco parody. Spoofing the '70s is at best redundant; it's like driving around the block again and again to stare at the same garish car crash. Going to the excess of creating an entire disco musical featuring no less than 21 re-worded disco staples is like stopping the car, getting out, and rolling around in the viscera.

Not to say that Boogie Oogie Oogie is a total loss. After all, it is presented as cabaret -- and cabaret falls squarely into the realm of showy, no-brainer entertainment. Treacherously unbalanced and often painfully obvious, Boogie Oogie is no exception. There were truly funny moments, provided mostly by David Silverman, who went from nagging Midwestern mother to coke-snorting nightclub sleaze without missing a beat. Lisa Estridge-Gray was lackluster and caricature-ish as nerdy Brenda, but had a ton of comedic chutzpah as her haughty dance-diva alter ego, Chantelle. The music was, although technically proficient, a nightmare.

While the endless first act was just a hair short of pure torture, the second half had bits of true cleverness and originality. The overwhelming audience response to the first act's hysterical closing number, "Fromage A Trios" seemed to bolster the confidence of the cast, who attacked act two with a joi de vivre and commitment missing from the first. But while this show definitely had its moments, I simply expect -- nay, demand -- more from David and Lisa Koch. Cabaret or not.

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