Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever at New Wimbledon Theatre
Saturday Night Fever is an iconic movie with iconic dance moves. Even those who haven’t seen the film or any of the previous productions of the musical are able to identify the night fever move and the white suit.
The show is set in the 1970’s and set to Bee Gee’s music. We meet Tony Manero who lives to dance. When his regular Saturday Night haunt, 2001 Odyssey, decides to hold a dance competition he has girls throwing themselves at him so they can partner up. Tony however only has eyes for Stephanie Mangano, a dancer determined to get across the bridge and make it in Manhattan.
Saturday Night Fever had a slightly odd format in so far as all of the songs were sang by the 3 Bee Gee’s who constantly appeared then disappeared on a raised platform at the back of the stage. Whilst they sounded great the concept itself jarred and made the evening feel more like a tribute act than a musical. On 3 occasions they were joined by other members of the cast however on each occasion the sound balance was off and you could barely hear the character singing. In Bobbie C’s number, ‘Tragedy’ the number went from being barely able to hear Raphael Pace, who was playing Bobbie C, to the key he was singing in clashing with the falsetto voices of the ‘Bee Gees.’ Their constant traipsing on and off stage also got tiresome and would have preferred to have had them sat there throughout, as the band did.
Tony Manero is the focal point of the show and the success, or not, of the production falls to him. Richard Winsor took this role and unfortunately he looked uncomfortable and out of place. The character itself is not a particularly likeable one and therefore he has to ooze charisma like John Travolta. Instead Winsor just sneered throughout. This may have been forgivable if his dance wowed but on several occasions he forgot the routine, appeared to be looking at cast members to help him remember the choreography and his attack felt lack lustre.
The rest of the cast however danced well and there was several moments of enjoyable choreography by Bill Deamer with many traditional disco moves performed with style. In the slower numbers such as ‘If I Can’t Have You’ and ‘Tragedy’ the direction by Bill Kenwright was poor and simply had both Annette and Bobbie C doing a lap of the set whilst singing.
Whilst the show undeniably has great songs and moments of impressive dance it is let down by a combination of a weak leading man, the change in concept for the delivery of the songs and unimaginative direction. The show is very early on in it’s run and hopefully some of these issues can be ironed out as the run progresses.
Saturday Night Fever is playing at New Wimbledon Theatre until the 8th September. Click here to visit their website.