The classic movie from the 1970's involving John Travolta donning a white suit to wow audience members as he dances the funky chicken to the iconic Bee Gees soundtrack has now Brooklyn-shuffled its way the West End's Peacock Theatre.
Saturday Night Fever is a camp display of what life should be.
Set in Brooklyn, New York we are introduced to Tony Manero (Richard Winsor) a young Italian-American still living at home with his parents and working the same mundane job at the hardware store. Tony has one joy in his life and that is dancing at the local discotheque where everyone knows his name and loves his moves. When an opportunity strikes to win $1000 in a dance competition, Tony's fuse is sparked as he sets out to win the prize and find stardom in the process. Accompanying Tony in his quest to win big, we are introduced to Stephanie Mangano (Olivia Fines), the talented dancer with ambition and drive to move to the big city. A true triple threat - you really cannot flaw her.
Throughout the show, there are numerous dance numbers (choreographed by Bill Dreamer) that incorporate the true style of the 70's, from the subtle finger pointing to the outlandish hip thrusting. Of course, the show would be incomplete without the classic soundtrack. The onstage Bee Gees combined the perfect blend of harmonies with an oozing of falsetto and the right amount of style to honour the original band. With hits such as More Than A Woman To Me, Night Fever and Tragedy, it is a testament to their talents for pulling off such such disco power-hits.
Bill Kenwright's production successfully tackles the mature themes of misogyny, abuse, sexual assault and suicide but unfortunately, the downside of this is how quickly these themes came and went towards the end of the production. With so much happening at once, it is difficult to fully digest what is going on. Throw in a confusing dream sequence and a subway ride of realisation and we are expected to believe that everything is okay because the main character goes from upset to joy in the space of two scenes. Although, the mega-mix at the end was worth it - it just seemed rushed and left me feeling more bewildered than anything that would encourage me to feel for these characters.
Saturday Night Fever is a show with a progressive undertone that a dream is a dream no matter if the success is measured by rising up the ranks or staying humble to what you love. Regardless of when the original movie was first released, the musical hones in on why this show is just as applicable to this generation as it was to the first that saw it in the theatres in the 70s - the struggles of wanting to do well by your friends and family, the heartache of falling in love with people who do not care for you and why feeling isolated can lead people down a difficult path. Times have changed in many positive ways but Saturday Night Fever is a camp display of what life should be and reminds us that there are hardships and there is struggle but within the core of it all there is love, understanding and fun. The kind of fun that makes even the oldest of audience member hit the dance floor for a good old fashioned boogie.