Sunday, 22 July 2018

Stunning show is no jukebox musical

Review: FORGET the film, forget the way the Bee Gees did the soundtrack; Saturday Night Fever is a stunning piece

Review: FORGET the film, forget the way the Bee Gees did the soundtrack; Saturday Night Fever is a stunning piece of musical theatre in its own right.

The secret lies in the harsh story which doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending. This is no jukebox musical cashing in on the great Bee Gees soundtrack, it’s a genuine piece of art to rank with West Side Story and Les Misérables.

The music is there all right, but not imitated or used as a soundtrack, it’s stripped down and put into the mouths of the characters — which only serves to point out the quality of the songwriting. All those hits are there — More Than A Woman, You Should Be Dancing, in fact the whole album, and they’re recognisable.

But the performers are given licence to sew them into their characters, they become part of the narrative instead of accompanying it.

It’s a gritty tale of alienation. Young Tony Manero, played in a five-star performance by Danny Bayne, has a dead-end job and a family that doesn’t seem to like him much. He’s part of the lost generation of the mid-Seventies in Brooklyn. His only way of giving meaning to his life is through dancing at the local disco. He doesn’t care about the future and wants to forget the past.



It’s a powerful story and opens the way for real drama and emotion in a way that some other musicals can’t. Saturday Night Fever isn’t about the feelgood factor, but you leave feeling good and enriched anyway.

The show is made all the more dynamic by the way the ensemble take on everything — there are are some astonishingly talented people playing instruments, dancing, acting and singing in a dizzying display of versatility. Nothing is lost, they are as tight as a banker’s wallet.

And the show looks amazing with flashing disco lights, bright colours a simple adaptable stage, and clever use of height as well as breadth. It’s not usual for this reviewer to get effusive, but Saturday Night Fever has it all: showmanship, drama, performance and great music.

Saturday Night Fever runs until tomorrow (Saturday). Box office 01494 512000 or online at www.wycombeswan.co.uk

Saturday Night Fever

Wycombe Swan

January 20

Mike Rowbottom

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