Saturday Night Fever Review 1998
The story concerns Tony Manero, a young working class 19 year-old who leads a normal life during the day working in a paint shop. At night he is a phenomenal disco dancer, which he demonstrates at the popular 2001 Odyssey club. The story follows his troubled personal life and his quest to become the disco king.
The plot of 'Saturday Night Fever' is only minuscule as the main attraction is the superb songs that were all massive hits for the Bee Gees and others during the 70's. In fact it is a bit of a nostalgic trip for me as I was a teenager in the 70's and actually bought these records! Even more disturbing, I used to wear the same type of clothes, flared trousers, longneck shirts etc, although I have hidden all photos of me wearing them!
I had not realised just how many great songs there were in this musical. 'Night Fever', Tragedy', 'Disco Inferno', 'Jive Talking', 'How Deep Is Your Love' and many others including one of my all time favourites ' If I Can't Have You' sang brilliantly by Tara Wilkinson, although I still prefer the original version by Evonne Elleman.
Adam Garcia is perfect for the part of 'Tony Manero', in as much as he looks, sounds and performs very much like John Travolta who starred in the film version. Garcia is a very good clone and this was important for the audiences who remember the 70's in order for them to relate to the film portrayal of Tony Manero. The rest of the cast was fine, with no one person standing out.
The choreography and direction by the experienced Arlene Phillips is adequate but seemed a little stale and repetitive. But then I suppose trying to re-create the 70's disco dancing was a hindrance. However, it did capture the period fully and there were some great dance routines.
The show has received mixed reviews from the popular press. JAMES WHITAKER of THE DAILY MIRROR says "Some of the best dancing ever seen on a West End stage "ROBERT GORE-LANGTON of THE DAILY EXPRESS said, " If you liked Grease you'll probably love this ". MICHAEL COVENEY of THE DAILY MAIL was not too impressed saying, " I don't think there's a single good song here." DAVID LISTER of THE INDEPENDENT says "The show lacked tension, a sense of danger, a sense of New York, a sense of the repressed working-class life…" NICHOLAS JE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD says "It's a tame, not that well sung disco blast from the recent past.." However, the most scathing review I read, and disagreed with, was by SHERIDEN MORLEY who says the show has a score "so unmemorable, you forget its songs while they are being sung" and goes on to say "Stay at home with a video, but not the one of this pathetic apology for entertainment".
'Saturday Night Fever' is a show that you will only enjoy if you like the music. Like I said, the story is not strong and is generally unimportant, it is the music that holds this show together. People under 30 may well enjoy it and find it a good laugh, but it is the over 30's I'm sure, who will enjoy it the most as they will get a lot of nostalgic fun from it. I expect this musical will have a long sell out run at the Palladium and may even start a 70's fashion trend, so I can get those flared trousers out again!
'Saturday Night Fever' is a musical you will either love or hate!