Saturday Night Fever by Geoids

Saturday Night Fever is a disco musical that has hit the Bridewell Theatre bringing the sound of the 70’s with it. The show follows Tony Manero who spends his weekends at the local disco. When he hears about a dance competition he decides to enter and sets his sights on a new dance partner, Stephanie Mangano who has her ambitions set elsewhere.

The book by Nik Cohn and adapted for the stage by Robert Stigwood and Bill Oaks is one without much depth and it glosses over themes such as gang violence without a backwards glance however Geoids embraces the fun side of the show, leaning heavily into the dance and disco element, making sure that by the end of the show everyone is wanting to go to their party.

The music mainly features songs by The Bee Gees and this is where the show really excels in the fun department. Each song is a disco classic and at the start of each number I had to mentally refrain my foot from tapping. Huge hits include How Deep Is Your Love, Night Fever and If I Can’t Have You and the show opens with a bang with the opening 2 numbers being ‘Stayin’ Alive’ and ‘Boogie Shoes,’ which immediately lets the audience now that there are in for a night of disco classics.

Arthur Lewis plays the John Travolta part of Tony Manero and it was easy to see why he was cast. His American Italian accent never drops and he is constantly dancing, unable to stand still for long. He plays opposite Ella Carter as Stephanie Mangano who strikes the balance of ‘stuck up’ perfectly with assured. Together they dance beautifully and their chemistry sizzles.

Another standout performance was James Thacker as Bobby, one of Tony’s friends who is struggling and looking to him for reassurance. He pitches Bobby’s vulnerability perfectly, struggling with the appearance of masculinity combined with his internal turmoil. Disco siren Candy played by Laura Martin is responsible for a large amount of the vocals for the big disco numbers and she rises to the challenge easily. Her vocal tone really suits these numbers and she struts her stuff looking at ease with these huge iconic disco songs.

A large part of Saturday Night Fever is the dance with choreographer El Strutt and Assistant choreographer Jenny Thompson faced with the huge challenge of numerous large numbers as well as 3 duos during the dance competition of a high standard and very different stylistically. In these duos they managed to play into the dancers abilities and create a very different feel for each of them, impressing us in their own way. Equally huge numbers such as Disco Inferno burst with energy and stayed true to the disco roots. There were times during some of the dance numbers that I struggled to locate who was delivering that part of the number and maybe some more consideration could have been given to this element.

Direction by Ben Wooley was kept simple and whilst the production calls for some challenging moments in terms of setting, such as when Tony and his friends decide to climb over the Manhatten Bridge. Wooley’s solution to this was inventive and in keeping with the piece, proving that you don’t need huge set pieces to make dramatic moments work.

At times the balance between the music and the dialogue was slightly off, especially considering how much of the dialogue was underscored or during numbers and I struggled to hear the cast over the band. The band were lead by MD Dominic Veall and they sounded like a funk band who had been playing together for years. I also loved the ‘steps-tacular’ orchestration by Veall for the playoff music which kept the audience partying in the auditorium.

Saturday Night Fever is everything you can want from a show with disco at its front and centre. It promises to get your toes tapping and strutting, rather than walking, home.

Saturday Night Fever is on until 29th June at the Bridewell Theatre. To find out more and book tickets visit their website here.

If you like this review you might also like our reviews of Geoids previous productions including Spring Awakening, and The 25th Annual Putman Spelling Bee.

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