Adaptation: Robert Stigwood &Bill Oakes
Music &Lyrics: The Bee Gees
Director: Ryan McBryde
Choreographer: Andrew Wright
Designer: Simon Kenny
Reviewer: Callum Stott
It’s 1976, Disco’s at its prime, and one young man takes to the dancefloor with one goal, to become the disco king.
Inspired by the 1977 film of the same name, Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony Manero (Danny King) teaming up with dance partner Stephanie (Naomi Slights), a 20 year old, desperate to make something of herself, each dreaming of a better world outside Brooklyn. Through their combined talents in dance, they team up to triumph in the disco’s dance competition.
With a catalogue of well-known Bee Gees hits, John Travolta, dancefloor moves and 70s flare, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the show appears to be an upbeat cheese-fest that would be suitable for grannies and youngsters alike. But beneath this image of campness – a far darker, grittier show emerges.
The themes of suicide, religion, race and abortion, all come up in this Theatre Royal Bath production. When in choosing a musical, you tend to swing to shows about lovable flying nannies or funny green ogres, this maybe isn’t the show for you. If a very moving story with some fairly vulgar language but a lot of heart and classic songs is what you’re after, this show is definitely worth a punt. The show really does well in going back to the roots of the original movie, using the X rated version as a model in instead of the more, well known, PG one.
The highlight of the show is of course the music and its use of very original song arrangements. Hits like “Tragedy” and “How Deep is Your Love” are given a whole new lease of life and really made you feel, less like you were watching a jukebox musical and more like a musical where the music plays a key part but doesn’t distract from the story actually trying to be told.
Another success of the show has to be the casting of Danny Bayne in the rôle of Tony Manero, he really is the stand out member of the cast and steps into the dance shoes of John Travolta with a very original interpretation of the character full of energy and pure life. Naomi Slights as Stephanie is very much on par in dance and ability as Bayneand the pair seems to get on well with one and other and this comes through in their performance.
If any part of the performance deserves criticism it the use of actors playing instruments. Sure, they are all very talented, but it somewhat distracts from the action on the stage when half the cast are playing. With the show having a very gritty, real-life feel storyline, this sense of realism is gone when half way through a dance number, half the dancers happen to bring out their instruments and play along.
Overall, if you are looking for quite a grown-up musical with a fab soundtrack and a gritty, real-life feel to it, Saturday Night Fever is definitely the show for you.
Running until February14 2015