The updated musical adaptation of the 1977 disco movie that made John Travolta a star currently playing at The Peacock Theatre in London. The show is about Tony Manero, the Italian American youth determined to win a dance competition at the local discotheque while dealing with romance, family issues and a troupe of friends who rely on his help and advice.
Richard Winsor as Tony Manero takes to the role with ease, bringing his wealth of experience as principal dancer for Matthew Bourne to the discotheque’s dance floor. A capable actor, he conveys all the hopes and frustrations of the Brooklyn hardware store assistant not daring to consider a life beyond winning his local dance competition to make it to performing at the disco’s of Manhattan. Onstage almost throughout the two-hour playing time, it’s a star performance, and when he dances it’s thrilling. Olivia Fines as Stephanie dances up a storm and shows us the ambitions of a woman who wants to be a part of the Manhattan elite but feels out of her depth. A true triple threat, Fines dances, sings and brings Stephanie to life with her performance.
Saturday Night Fever has a banging soundtrack and lashings of 70s moves, choreographed by Olivier award winning Bill Deamer here, a surprising number of variations on disco dance moves and the addition of big leaps and triple spins from the ballet world. All the original Bee Gee hits from the movie and more are present, impeccably falsettoed onstage by a trio of lookalikes (Jake Byrom, James Hudson, and Oliver Thomson). The cast sing too Jasmin Colangelo’s Annette delivering a touching “If I Can’t Have You” and Kevin O’Dwyer as Bobby C brings heartache to the song “Tragedy”, realising that he is “goin’ nowhere”.
DJ Monty played by Faizal Jaye, catches the eye from his perch high up onstage, dancing along with the ensemble below and singing his heart out. As Tony’s mother and father, Melody Jones and Phillip Aiden convey all the frustration of unfulfilled lives, their hopes pinned on Frank Junior’s priesthood shattered by his decision to leave the church. Marios Nicolaides is excellent as Frank Junior.
Producer Bill Kenwright, who also directs, honours the themes of racial tension, unwanted pregnancy and sexual assault. The script is largely taken from the original screenplay by Norman Wexler, but Kenwright has kept the best lines and discarded a lot that were unnecessary.
Gary McCann’s set of wrought iron staircases, platforms and walkways are enhanced by eye-catching video designs by Nina Dunn. Nick Richings’s lighting makes vivid and clear the differentiation between the garishness of the discotheque and the dullness of day-to-day life.
Saturday Night Fever has a feel good/night out enjoyment factor and the production places the dancing at its heart, with crowd-pleasing group dances and a soundtrack that you will be singing all the way home!
Saturday Night Fever is at The Peacock Theatre London, until 26th March 2o22.