SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER
BILL KENWRIGHT by arrangement with the ROBERT STIGWOOD organisation
A review by Tanya Howard
If like me you have never seen the iconic movie Saturday Night Fever, you will at least have heard of the film that catapulted John Travolta into his famous Grease role, or at the very least you’d recognise the iconic white suit. Set in the 70s against a backdrop of hit Bee Gees songs, the show is currently on at the New Wimbledon Theatre marking 40 years since the UK cinema release.
Telling the story of Tony Manero, a young working-class guy living in Brooklyn who escapes the harsh realities of his life; a dead-end job, clashing with his unsupportive and drunk Dad, racial tensions in the community, and his general restless, by dancing at the local discotheque with his friends. In the disco Tony is the champion dancer so it only makes sense for him to enter when a contest is thrown with the winner getting a grand prize of £1,000.
This new stage versions promised more drama, more music and hot new choreography, and was sure to have you dancing in the aisles. I was brought up on the music of the 70s and 80s, and I have always been a massive dance fan, so this sounded right up my street. Sadly, what sounded like a winning combination fell a bit flat and did not wow me as much as I expected, but I am hoping it was a case of first night jitters and technical issues that can be ironed out as the show goes on its tour.
Richard Winsor played the main character of Tony Manero and whilst I haven’t seen the original film I don’t believe he done John Travolta’s performance any justice, but then those are some pretty big shoes to fill. A number of times Richard could be seen looking to fellow cast members to remember the choreography and looked a tad uncomfortable, but I believe this could be down to the fact that Richard is a trained ballet dancer so disco dancing may not be his strongest area.
The stand out performers for me were Tony’s friends, Bobbie C, Double J, Gus and Joey, who were giving 100% in all the dance routines. Raphael Pace gave me a great performance as Bobbie C and I could feel the emotion pouring out of his performance, although during his solo rendition of ‘If I Can’t Have You’ he was drowned out on the most part by the singing of the Bee Gees in the background whose microphones were turned up way too high in comparison.
The second half was a lot more enjoyable than the first and I think it has the potential to be a great show. I think the cast need to be more confident in their abilities, they could do with a little bit of choreography during the solo performances as Bobbie C and Annette’s songs saw them just walking the stage despite it being said there would be more choreography. That being said there was a number of enjoyable performances, I’ve had Disco Inferno stuck in my head ever since seeing the show, and a number of the cast were incredible dancers. The backbones and the potential are all there, they just need some fine tuning and a little more practice and I’m sure it will be the winner it should have been.
The shows runs until Saturday 8th September with tickets ranging from £15.90 to £52.90, and lower prices for Theatre Card Members, buy your tickets at https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/saturday-night-fever/new-wimbledon-theatre/