Saturday Night Fever, the famous film that shot John Travolta to fame comes to the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre this week and what a dancetastic fest it is. Featuring classic numbers such as Stayin' Alive, Disco Inferno, Night Fever, If I Can't Have You, You Should Be Dancing, Jive Talkin' and Tragedy its guaranteed to get you up on your feet.
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. Stephanie is played by Olivia Fines and Olivia 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. Olivia 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. Tony’s and Stephanie’s dance in the café would get them 10’s on strictly in a contemporary dance category. A real joy to watch.
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 Natasha Firth and Natasha 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 (Brandon Gale), Gus (Owen Broughton), Bobbie C (Will Luckett) and Joey (Ross Clifton) 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. 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 (Phil Mennell) 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 layering 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 (Jake Byrom), Maurice (James Kenneth Haughan) and Robin (Danny Knott). 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 for disco and Studio 54 but disco music has not died. It is alive and well and touring on a stage near you! Trust me the whole audience will be up dancing at the end of the night.
So, if you fancy a bit of a boogie, you don’t have to travel to Brooklyn, lucky for us, you can strut your stuff at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 19 October 2019.