REVIEW: StageArt Presents SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Step back in time!

By Deborah Langley

The date is 1976 and Brooklyn heart-throb Tony Manero is a young man with an extraordinary ability to dance. Stuck in a dead-end job he has only one ambition in life – to become the disco king.

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StageArt’s West End revival production of Saturday Night Fever transports us to the heart of the disco era designed to make you want to jump out of your seat and start dancing!

Starring Mike Snell (Strictly Ballroom, Wicked, Legally Blonde, The Boy From Oz), Sheridan Anderson (West Side Story, Pippin, Our House) and Elise Brennan (Jersey Boys, Guys and Dolls) this production brings to the stage everything you loved about the movie, the music and the decade.

But, as director Robbie Carmellotti says, ‘It is easy to think of Saturday Night Fever as a fun night out with great Bee Gees hits’ – not this production, however. After a bubble-gum style Act 1 which has you moving and grooving, Act 2 reminds you that the 1970’s wasn’t just about great songs and fashion.This show also poignantly explores dark topics such as rape, suicide and racism with a punch that leaves you mesmerized.

Thus Bobby’s (Dean Schulz) version of “Tragedy” allowed me to really hear the words for the first time and be completed engrossed in the heartache which can strike any of us.

Other standout moments included Annette’s (Brennan) heartbreaking rendition of “If I Can’t Have You, I Don’t Want Nobody, Baby”, an amazing dance-off with stunning acrobatics during “You Should Be Dancing” and an exceptional STOMP-type version of “Boggy Shoes”.

The famous music really is the star of this show, musically directed by Tony Toppi, with outstanding choreography by Luke Alleva and a strong ensemble: in particular Alexia Brinsley, Cassie Miller, and Paul Watson (Once, Jersey Boys, Fiddler On The Roof) whose performance as DJ Monty was spot-on and his guitar-playing amazing. Ten more of the cast members brought music to the stage playing live instruments, but unfortunately on the night attended, many of these performances fell flat with poor sound quality – a huge distraction which undermined several numbers.

Nevertheless, this otherwise spectacular new production is a must-see for any fans of the film, the music or the era!

Saturday Night Fever, 11-28 February 2016 at Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran.

Times: Tuesday – Sunday, 7.30pm; Saturday & Sunday, 1.30pm matinee

Bookings:  8290 7000.  www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

Image by Belinda Strodder photography

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