Four stars celebrate the ’70s: Melody Thornton, Louis Smith, Rachel Stevens and Lee Ryan party in Eastbourne

From left: Melody Thornton, Louis Smith, Rachel Stevens and Lee Ryan
From left: Melody Thornton, Louis Smith, Rachel Stevens and Lee Ryan

Rip It Up The 70s celebrates the greatest pop music decade ever in Eastbourne next week.

Coming to the Congress Theatre on Saturday, September 28 (7.30pm), the show stars Olympic champion Louis Smith, Rachel Stevens (S Club 7), Melody Thornton (Pussycat Dolls) and Lee Ryan (Blue) in a groovy evening of singing and dancing.

First, there was Rip It Up The 50s, then The 60s, and now comes the ’70s version, which kicks-off a UK tour in September. No one knows better what this will entail than Louis Smith who was part of the line-up for the first two Rip It Up shows.

“This has become quite a significant chapter in my post-gymnastic life,” Louis says. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the industry, dancing, performing, showbiz. I never went to drama school. I wasn’t ever a pop star. It’s been a steep learning curve.”

In the ’60s show, he had just one song, ‘Let’s Twist Again’, which didn’t require much vocal range. “This time, I’ll be a little bit more exposed singing ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ It’s a beautiful song.”

Louis, who won Strictly in 2012 with pro-dancer Flavia Cacace, will also be dancing some technical, new style numbers, as opposed to ballroom or Latin.

When ex-Pussycat Doll, Melody Thornton, 34, was approached to join this Rip It Up tour, she didn’t hesitate.

“My song-writing style is modelled on the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” she says.

At 19, fresh out of college, Melody auditioned to join the successful all-girl band, Pussycat Dolls. When they disbanded in 2010, she went solo and enjoyed making her own music.

Now she’s looking forward to touring with some pop classics: “I saw Rip It Up The 60s in the West End and I loved its energy, although I could see the hard work that went into it. We’ll be featuring ‘Tiny Dancer’, perhaps my favourite Elton John song ever, Gladys Knight’s ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ and Harry Nilsson’s ‘Without You’ which I’m going to be singing.”

After appearing on Strictly in 2008 and touring with the reformed S Club 7 in 2015, Rachel Stevens, 41, was on the look-out for another dance project.

“There’s a lot of dancing in Rip It Up and that was one of the things that first attracted me to it,” she says. I also grew up listening to ’70s music. Then I went to see Rip It Up The 60s and I understood how the show hangs together. By the end of the evening, I was on my feet.”

In this new show, Rachel is particularly pleased to be singing ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ and hopes she’ll do justice to Karen Carpenter’s peerless original.

Lee Ryan, 36, jumped at the chance to appear in this touring production as well.

“I love the music,” he says. “My mum was a big fan, so I grew up with The Supremes, Gladys Knight and The Pips, all of that. I’m going to be doing a medley of Queen’s hits. I absolutely adore Freddie Mercury and I’ve also got Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’.

Tickets for Rip It Up The 70s cost £24.50-£41.50. Call the box office on 01323 412000 or visit www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk.

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