Saturday Night Fever, the famous film that shot John Travolta to fame comes to the stage at Waterside, Aylesbury this week. This story is hard hitting and gritty – after all its Brooklyn in the 1970s. Life is hard. You are lucky to have a job – you don’t think about dreams. Well unless you are a teenager with a talent for dancing that is. During the day Tony works in a DIY store and yet he lives for Saturday nights where he can go to the disco and strut. He is known and treated like a celebrity at the disco. Saturday Night is where it’s at!
Tony is played by Richard Winsor and he gives Tony that edge of vulnerability that makes us take Tony to our heart. He is bordering on arrogance at times but we forgive Tony as we know he has been put down all his life and his relationship with his dad is difficult. Richard is a fantastic Tony and acts the part perfectly despite the fact that sadly Richard is not the best dancer on the stage (despite him giving it his all). Stephanie is played by Kate Parr and Kate is great at giving Stephanie that aloofness as she tries to fit in with her Manhattan colleagues and tear herself away from her poorer Brooklyn upbringing. Kate is incredible and a good dancer to boot. I love this storyline as its really about them both trying to better themselves without knowing exactly how to go about it.
Annette is in love with Tony and until Stephanie hits the scene, she is Tony’s regular dance partner. Being brushed aside she does all she can to get Tony’s attention. Annette is played by Anna Campkin and Anna plays the part perfectly – we really do feel sorry for Annette as no one can be blamed for who they fall in love with. Tony’s gang comprises of Double-J (Jared Thompson), Gus (Owen Broughton), Bobbie C (Raphael Pace) and Joey (Michael Cortez) who all bring their characters to life to make the show rounded and put Tony on that pedestal as leader of the gang. DJ Monty deserves a mention. Played by Faizal Jaye, he absolutely nails it as a smooth chat in between some excellent tracks. He is also the best dancer on the stage. The story is told beautifully and with heart. It covers some difficult subjects but that is the charm of Saturday Night Fever. It’s a story with real characters and the cast really do bring them to life. There are secondary stories such as Frank Jr (Marios Nicolades) leaving the church and how his catholic family feel about that. Bobby C has got a girl pregnant and needs advice from whomever he can get it from. Each character is fantastically well-acted. The whole storytelling aspect of the show is sublime.
I personally didn’t like some of the choreography. We want the moves that fit the film. Therefore, we want the ‘Apple picking’ move in Saturday Night Fever and we do not want the move that replaced it and looked like an uppercut boxing move. Give us the disco dances we crave!
The Bee Gees music is key to this show and yes, we did have Bee Gees present in the form of Barry (Edward Handoll), Maurice (Alistair Hill) and Robin (Matt Faull). They sang brilliantly and along with the onstage band really gave the show its music credibility. The sets were great including the backdrop letting us know if we are in Manhattan or Brooklyn and Tony’s house with his bedroom upstairs was a good use of the stage. The disco was also fantastic. The use of mirror shows us the light up dance floor and deep inside I secretly wanted to go to a real disco that played this type of music and dance on a light up dance floor. I was too young to do this in the 1970’s but disco music has not died. It is alive and well and touring on a stage near you!
So, if you fancy a bit of a boogie and sparkle, head on down to Waterside in Aylesbury where you can strut your stuff until Saturday 13 October 2018.