MusicalNorth WestReview

Saturday Night Fever – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Music and lyrics: The Bee Gees

Adaptors: Robert Stigwood & Bill Oakes

Director: Bill Kenwright

Reviewer: Daryl Holden

Based on the hit film of the same name, Saturday Night Fever is a show that knows who its audience is and does very well to meet the expectations of those who come to see it. However, in this ode to disco dancing of the seventies, does it miss a step?

The main draw of this show is the music, and make no mistake, it delivers. Taking the hits of the Bee Gees and recreating them on stage, the band and this shows very own Bee Gees have no easy task, yet that’s exactly how they make it appear, perfectly replicating every song to the point that if you couldn’t see them playing on stage you would be convinced it was a recording.

The set is cleverly built to give this view of the band and the Bee Gees but at the same time hides them just out of view so that they never take away from the story unfolding on the stage. The set itself is beautifully designed, swapping from houses to diners, to disco dance floors with ease. The stand out design, and rightly so, is of the 2001 disco, with its infamous dancefloor and a large mirror at the back, angled so that we get an overhead shot and makes the space look even larger.

For the most part, the acting is top notch, there are some weaker performances from some members of the supporting cast with Richard Winsor as our main character Tony Manero stealing the show. Winsor’s dancing, and indeed the dancing of the show as a whole is mesmerising and props must be given to choreographer Bill Deamer for successfully capturing the movements and styles of the time and making them flow so well and making it a pleasure to watch. At times, this heavy choreography mixed in with the music can make the show seem like nothing more than a live-action music video, but that’s only because the songs don’t seem to fit all too well with the actual story, and that highlights the shows glaring issue, the writing.

The writing keeps the characters of the show at arm’s length and tackles a lot without actually giving a lot of resolution, Tony is really the only character who goes through a full and meaningful arc, while his love interest Stephanie only really gets halfway there and other side characters barely get any at all. The script touches on moments of suicide and sexual assault as well but even these issues play second fiddle to a dance competition and are given no time to be explored in any real consequential detail.

Saturday Night Fever does a lot right. The set, the music, the acting and the absolutely flawless and captivating chorography all results in a fantastic piece of theatre that keeps you constantly engaged and toes tapping. However, its poor writing and inability to follow through on so many different plot threads and ideas that makes you feel like somethings missing and this stops the show from being the Saturday night at the disco we all want it to be, and in the words of the Bee Gees, that’s a tragedy.

Runs until 15 September 2018 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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One Comment

  1. I visited this review site as I also felt disappointed with the show. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong, just that it was ‘not right. As the review says It was all there, but just missed the mark. Never really got going, and some random F words had the audience gasping in shock. Thank goodness for the live bee gees.!
    I found the set changes a bit clumsy, but nowrealise that it’s actually the whole story that’s very ‘clunky just the ‘edited highlights’ of the original.

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