Music and lyrics: The Bee Gees
Adaptors: Robert Stigwood & Bill Oakes
Director: Bill Kenwright
Reviewer: Emma Dutton
Dig out your dancing shoes and head down to Chester’s Storyhousethis week, where Bill Kenright and The Robert Stigwood Organisation’s Saturday Night Fever takes to stage. The musical marks 40 years since the release of the infamous John Travolta classic; telling the story of Tony Manero, who finds an escape from his rather humdrum life as a paint salesman living with his parents through the glitz and glamour of the Brooklyn dancing scene.
Tony, played by ex-Casualty star Richard Windsor, has the job of holding this production together and certainly lives up to the challenge. Windsor’s presence on stage is impossible not to love – providing the full triple barrel of singing, dancing and acting talents in bucketloads. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the whole cast. While the dancing is undeniably the top of its game, thanks to the delightful choreography of Bill Deamer and the slick delivery of the cast; some of the supporting cast male vocals are rather less impressive. The female solo numbers, notably those of Olivia Fines, playing Stephanie, and Natasha Firth as Annette do help to raise the bar once again though. Both female leads offer excellent performances throughout.
Despite the main cast members’ undeniable talents in their performances, the characters are quite hard to engage with and root for. The storyline feels a little thin, with an attempt to condense four or five emotive sub-plots into a standard-length production in which at least fifty percent of the time is given to dance routines. There doesn’t feel like there is enough time to really connect with the characters or engage emotionally with the tear-jerker scenes (of which there are a fair few). However, the dance routines are so wonderful that the sacrifice seems worth it.
The inventive use of the staging must be mentioned, with slick set changes and character entrances keeping the audience in the moment throughout. Nick Richings’ fantastic work with lighting also helps to create a fully immersive experience for the audience. As the disco balls fill the theatre with a rainbow of light, the audience are transported to a Brooklyn dance club where they stay until the final cast member leaves the stage.
Jake Byrom, James Kenneth Haughan and Danny Knott, who play an understated but crucial part as The Bee Gees, offer fabulous vocals throughout. With their faultless performances of crowd-pleasers such as Tragedy, More Than a Woman and If I Can’t Have You; the cast are allowed to focus completely on their dance routines. It’s impossible not to find yourself toe-tapping and mouthing along.
On the whole, the highlight of the show is, quite rightly, the dance sequences. For anyone wanting to hear a great selection of classic hits and watch impossibly fast, breath-taking dance routines; this is a show not to be missed.
Runs until 14 September 2019 | Image: Contributed