Hull New Theatre – until 2nd February 2019
Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams
Last night the highly talented cast of Saturday Night Fever strutted their stuff with verve and vitality. The show started with a stunning full cast dance to Stayin’ Alive, setting the scene and giving us an inkling of what was to come.
Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony Manero (Richard Winsor), who lives in a working class suburb of Brooklyn, working in a dead end job in but living for Saturday nights when he can go to the disco and dance. He has a talent, but of course this is the 1970’s and there is no way he would be encouraged, but it is dancing that makes him feel alive. The action zips from his home, to work, to the disco, to the dance studio and to hanging out with his friends at the bridge. This production does not pull any punches in showing the rawness of this life.
Accompanying the action is the music of The Bee Gees, but never out of place or just used as filler. All of the music was relevant, at times heartbreakingly so. The music is superbly performed by The Bee Gees (Edward Handoll, Alastair Hill and Matt Faull) who are up above the action on an industrial type walkway.
The dancing throughout is sublime and if there are dances you liked in the film, they are here, but oh so much better when performed live, Jive Talking was a real highlight. The ensemble cast is incredibly talented and quite literally took my breath away a number of times.
Richard Winsor as Tony Manero is the lynchpin of the show and has the walk, the attitude, and oh does he have the moves! He is totally believable as Tony as he draws you into his world, you care what happens to him. It is quite some skill to be able to casually get changed on a stage whilst preening yourself in a mirror that isn’t there! His solo dance to Immortality, performed after the death of his friend, was heartbreaking so full of raw emotion and beautiful to watch. Like his character, Richard Winsor was clearly born to dance!
Kate Parr as Stephanie Mangano and Anna Campkin as Annette are perfect foils to Tony as his dance partners and love interests. Anna Campkin’s rendition of If I Can’t Have You was very poignant. Raphael Pace (Bobbie C), Jared Thompson (Double-J), Owen Broughton (Gus) and Michael Cortez (Joey) provide excellent back up and support as Tony’s friends.
Special mention should go to Faizal Jaye as DJ Monty, a talent to watch for, his moves up on his dance podium were magic. As my friend put it “like watching molten metal.”
Everything comes together in this performance, the scenery and lighting taking us to a believable downtown Brooklyn and the Band (Richard Morris, Jeremy Wootton, Eikel Hernandez, Luke Beirne, Ali McMath and Dan Hayward) providing stunning music. What I particularly enjoyed was that at no time was the music overpoweringly loud, the lyrics came through to add to the story.
At the end the audience was quickly on their feet to join in with the Megamix and give the cast the standing ovation they fully deserved. What can I say, get those flares on and get down to Hull New Theatre to see this show – never mind Staying’ Alive, you will come out feeling alive! Me – I’m off to practice my dance moves…