I forgot how amazing 1970s disco and dancing truly are. The film ‘Saturday Night Fever in 1977 launched John Travolta’s career and helped him secure ‘Grease’ the following year. Saturday Night Fever helped shaped the culture of disco and the 70s. The soundtrack, featuring disco songs by the Bee Gees, is one of the best-selling soundtracks in history. The movie cost $3.5 million to make and grossed $237.1 million worldwide which is a phenomenal success! Also, the film was nominated for many Academy Awards and also won seven Grammy Awards in 1978,1979, and 2004.
The summer of 1998 arrives and Saturday Night Fever the musical is born at the West-end in collaboration with Arlene Phillips, Paul Nicholas, and Robert Stigwood. Having these three theatre legends in your team is always going to be a hit as well as all music from the award-winning Beegees too. Cut to the present day Saturday Night Fever now has the famous producer attached to the current UK tour Bill Kenwright, who is famous for producing award-winning musicals.
Last night we went to the opening night of the production at the beautiful Palace Theatre on Oxford Road in Manchester. A packed house not a dry seat in sight, as we sat down we could feel the audience excited for the show. Suddenly the curtains went up and ‘Staying Alive’ came on, putting me right in the mood for a good night. Tony (Jack Wilcox – this is John Travolta’s part) came out swinging his hips together with his fellow dancers lit up the dance floor and came out performing some classic 1970s dance moves. Flavia and I loved it clapping away and had immediately taken us away from all the stresses of everyday life.
I loved that the live music was on the stage where we could see people playing and The BeeGees played by AJ Jenks, Oliver Thomson and Drew Ferry they were at the top above the dance floor, not only did they look and sound like the BeeGees they moved like them too. I particularly enjoyed the numbers ‘Staying Alive, Disco Inferno, Night Fever, and How deep in your love’ on all those numbers the stage lit up with bright colours, and lights and disco balls appeared to the sides of the audience to create a disco effect brilliant!
If you don’t know the story and musical focuses on Tony Manero played by Jack Wilcox an Italian-American Brooklyn youth whose weekend is spent at the local discotheque. There he luxuriates in the admiration of the crowd and a growing relationship with Stephanie Mangano played by Rebekah Bayant and can temporarily forget the realities of his life, including a dead-end job in a paint store and his gang of deadbeat friends. In parts of the story, especially the second half the musical can become quite dark covering topics such as racial conflict, drug use, suicide, and violence. I thought the suicide scene was done very tastefully and Bobbie C played by Harry Goodson-Bevan did a good job at playing a sensitive part. Considering this is Harry’s debut in the theatre, I think he did a great job well done Harry.
Highlights for me include the scene with Tony and Stephanie (see photo below) both of the actors are truly beautiful dancers and connected well together and pulled off some fancy moves. I also loved the group dancing, especially at the end, honestly, the way that Jack moves his hips which has such confidence and ability to make a girl blush; he was truly on fire and you could really see that he felt the music. John Travolta’s character is not an easy role to play because he was so good at it. Jack definitely gave John a run for his money and a great casting pick by Bill Kenwright.
I loved watching DJ Monty played by Faizal Jaye, my oh my that guy can bust some moves. He was mainly at the top of the stage dancing he should have been on the main stage with Jack. A magnificent dancer and he truly felt the music and of course, had the famous 70s Snakehips!
The set was quite basic and fit together easily we only had to wait a couple of seconds for the scene to change. I liked that it was quite simple as the focus would be the dancing and the story. The lighting for the dancing scenes was bright with the 70s disco dance floor at the end. All the live music on stage made the show real and having the Beegees perform above the dancers was very clever and gave a real live feel element to it.
Considering Tony (Jack) was nearly in every single scene and dancing intensely his fitness level must be high. He never looked tired and in every scene especially the dancing he really gave everything and believed in the dancing. It’s not very often you see the dancing of this high standard and Jack and Faizal were incredible dancers.
For most of the parts, this really is a feel-good family show. Bustin’ moves and takes you right back to the delight of the 1970s for a few hours, we managed to escape fully into Bill Kenwright’s world of everything Saturday Night Fever. This musical is not to be missed and I guarantee will make you feel good after.
Go and book it now and return to the magic of the 1970s, with a very talented, cast, musicians, and creatives! Tickets start from only £13 and it’s on at the beautiful Palace Theatre till Saturday 1st October.
Thank you to the ATG for looking after us.
Review by Amy Parkinson