This new stage version of the iconic John Travolta starring film (1977) opened at Storyhouse last night with ex Casualty star Richard Winsor donning the iconic white suit. The show, featuring the music of the Bee Gees, tells the tale of Brooklyn retail worker Tony Manero, who uses dance to escape the frustrations of his dead end job, romantic woe and domestic tension.
Photos : Pamela Raith Photography
Richard Winsor, is excellent as Tony, and his earlier career as a trained dancer is very evident with his joyously mesmerising dance moves. He also perfectly captures the vulnerability and sadness at the heart of his character, all of which fades away as soon as he hits the dance floor. With the addition of a glitter ball the packed Storyhouse auditorium is transformed into the nightclub of your dreams.
New for this latest version of the show is the inclusion of the Bee Gees themselves, who sing from an elevated platform with their songs from the original film, plus some additions driving the plot and sound tracking the amazing dance sequences. The three actors singing as the Bee Gees were a fantastic inclusion, adding a whole new level to the evening, and sounding incredibly like the real life group. The darkness of the songs themselves also becomes evident, with the chorus announcing; “Life going nowhere.. somebody help me...”
Highlights of the first half include a ghostly version of “Words” set in a diner, featuring Tony and his talented dance partner/thwarted love interest Stephanie Mangano ( Olivia Fines). Natasha Firth, as Annette also delivers a passionate “If I can’t have you” which sent a shiver down my spine and once again illustrated the sadness of the characters and their respective escape routes.
Whilst the second half contains an equal number of rousing songs and superbly choreographed/performed dance routines, the plot darkens and includes some emotionally desolate themes, including a suicide scene and sexual assault. None of the characters are where they want to be in life and the ending, true to the movie, leaves plot threads hanging, which means the show just misses out on the “feel good” category. However, perhaps the closing disco scene evokes the theme of the show as a whole, whilst saying something deeper about life itself. Despite the sad themes everyone was clapping and dancing at the finale, with the message of living in the moment emerging strongly. Life may be hard but you can always dance and listen to the Bee Gees. As the musical legends said themselves : “prayin’ for this moment to last, livin’ on the music so fine”
Saturday Night Fever runs until Saturday. Tickets; https://www.storyhouse.com/event/saturday-night-fever