Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever
Based on the Paramount/RSO movie and the story by Nik Cohn, adapted for the stage by Robert Stigwood and Bill Oakes, new version arranged and edited by Ryan McBryde. Music and lyrics are by artists including the Bee Gees. John Frost production. Sydney Lyric Theatre. Opening Night – April 2, 2019

It’s a turbocharged disco leap back to the funky 70’s with this show, fuelled by an inferno of lights, beams into the audience and deep 3D projections. 

With the language sanitised and the sexual violence less explicit in this latest stage version, we could well have overshot and reached the 50’s – but who cares about the story!

Most of the actors are kept so busy with fast dance moves, actually singing the Bee Gees hits is left to four vocalists (including standout Natalie Conway). Oh, and Marcia Hines drops by for a boogie in Brooklyn’s disco palace, and to add real class to the classics, "You" and "Your Love Still Brings Me to My Knees".

Marcia is also there to judge the local disco competition. Tony is so ambitious to win he drops his smitten partner, Annette, to team with a better, classier one.  It’s a smart move. As Stephani, Melanie Hawkins is a sublimely beautiful dancer.

Thankfully she has a few lyrical moments to stretch into, beyond the choreographic repetitions inherent in disco pattern movement and its army of arm gestures (from choreographer Malik Le Nost). Meanwhile, Angelique Cassimatis as the rejected Annette at least gets to sing her own song, and poignantly, "If I Can’t Have You".

As a charismatic but sensitive Tony, the mercurial Euan Doidge is also a superb dancer and he looks good, despite now having a beefcake figure nothing like the slim lines of John Travolta in the 1976 film.  Tony shares low self-esteem with one of his mates Bobby, an able young Ryan Morgan (who sings his own "Tragedy"); it’s darker subplot welcome in the rush of disco to the finale.

There’s also Tony’s battling parents, played by Denise Drysdale and Mark Mitchell, but filmed as kitchen table scenes dropped in on a screen.  It adds to the sometimes clutter and wandering focus of this originally French production from director Stephane Jarry. 

But whatever, "You Should Be Dancing" and "Night Fever" and "How Deep is your Love", all make you want to dance to the joy.  Musical Director David Skelton and his seven musicians pump it out from the pit.  Everyone is super-miked and the show super-sized.  It’s giddy fun.

Martin Portus

Photographer: Heidi Victoria

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