Sheffield Lyceum – until 2 March 2019
Reviewed by Lottie Davis Browne
It’s the late 1970’s and disco fever is in full swing. Italian-American teenager Tony Manero lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with his parents and younger sister. Stuck in a dead end job in a small DIY site, Tony’s only real escape is the weekend when he can hang out with his four friends at local disco bar 2001 Odyssey (more fondly referred to as “the 2001”), where Tony is fast becoming the King of the dance floor.
When Tony hears about an upcoming dance contest at the 2001 where the top prize is $1,000 he decides to enter, reluctantly partnering with local girl Annette, who has been lusting after Tony for some time. However Annette’s joy is short lived as Tony meets a more experienced dancer, Stephanie Mangano at Dale Dance Studio, where him and Annette have been rehearsing, telling Annette he has found himself a new dance partner.
Although Tony wants more than just friendship from Stephanie, he reluctantly agrees to keep their relationship strictly professional.
Admittedly I haven’t seen the original movie that this musical is a direct adaptation of, having not being born until the early 80s nor not being a fan of disco nor The Bee Gees, whom of course provide the entire soundtrack for the story. Sure I’m familiar with the majority of their songs but tend to flick between radio stations should one of their tunes come on – unless of course it’s one of the many cover versions! However Saturday Night Fever transported me back in time to the groovy seventies, from the bad fashion to the disco balls.
Whilst the story itself is pretty much non existent, focussing mainly around the dance competition, it’s the music and choreography which make this musical such a hit. Bearing this in mind, I wasn’t particularly blown away by Richard Winsor as leading man Tony. For those that have seen the original movie, I’m sure you’ll recall how John Travolta was full of sass putting every emotion into his dancing – from toe to finger tips. However I felt Winsor lacked charisma and was seemingly devoid of showing any energy or emotion in his routines. You’d only to glance across at Jared Thompson as Double-J to see the difference. A great deal of disco moves relay on exaggerated hip moves which Thompson certainly didn’t disappoint on. Every part of his anatomy and facial expressions delivered the moves with jive and charisma, making me wonder why he hadn’t been cast as the leading role instead.
Phillip Aiden gave a chilling performance as Tony’s abusive alcoholic father whist Melody E Jones gave a heart warming performance as his ill-suffering wife.
The stage set was featured around some metal staircases which became the 2001’s steps for dancing on, lead to Tony’s bedroom and to the bridge Tony and his friends loved to hang out on, which later becomes the place where tragedy strikes (or should that be Tragedy?!).
Throw in the mirrored multi-coloured lit floor and disco balls for that original nostalgic disco feel and this musical leaves one itching to get up and strut. Whilst nothing can be done to enhance the lack of story from the original movie, having a issues from domestic violence, suicide, rape and the over use of the F-word, by the time the cast reach the encore finale mega mix (Disco Inferno/Night Fever/You Should be Dancing) one cant help but feel all warm and fuzzy and busting your best disco moves.
Saturday Night Fever is the ultimate nostalgic night out, performing at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre until Saturday 2nd March