By day Tony Manero sells paint, by evening he gets it in the neck from his family, by night he shakes his impressive dance moves at nightclub 2001 Odyssey. In between, he plays for the ladies and gets into scuffs which make him limp before his big dance contest. And yes, that's pretty much the storyline there in this version, that fails to use the strands of the original film to better effect, and pursue making it a feelgood music show instead.
So, you need to decide if you want your Saturday Night Fever to be just about the music, dance, flashing lights and the opportunity for Richard Winsor as Tony to try to out pose John Travolta? If yes, you are in the right place. And to be honest, while this isn't high art theatre, it does make a good night out.
However, what music, and how well performed! The small band under the direction of Scott Alder, and The Bee Gees, Jake Byrom as Barry Gibb, James Kenneth Haughan as Maurice and Danny Knott are brilliant and manage to compose themselves beyond their slightly dodgy wigs, to entertain the audience the entire evening.
During all this brilliant music, the cast works hard to make a slight story work around some brilliant dance routines. Albeit routines that maintain quite a similarity until perhaps the final dance contest, where choreography, from Bill Deamer, does get a little more freedom beyond the classic Manero and era moves.
Olivia Fines looks more than the part as Tony's love interest Stephanie Mangana, statuesque and stylish and sublime dance skills. What surprises most though, and sadly so neglected in this show, is her stunning singing voice. In What Kind of Fool, she performs with no question the best solo of the show. Tremendous, and so sad, we hardly hear her sing again.
Natasha Firth also has one of the stronger solos in her role as Annette, the other woman in Tony's life, and the character that in the film has the strongest scene of the original film, but which is somewhat thrown away in this heavily sanitised version to keep the whole piece audience-friendly. It's a nice performance though and her performance of If I Can't Have You is a show highlight.
Saturday Night Fever is simply a good night out. If you are a fan of the music, and who isn't really, you will I am sure, enjoy the show. It is wafer thing theatre, and not heading for any awards, but the company and leads are strong, and the music makes the night, and no question, it provides a highly entertaining evening.
Fabulous music and dance, but a slight, and heavily sanitised storyline fails to deliver the whole package.
Performance reviewed: Tuesday 15th October 2019 at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes.
Saturday Night Fever runs at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 19th October 2019 before continuing its tour.
Further details about Milton Keynes Theatre can be found at http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/milton-keynes-theatre/
Photos: Paul Coltas