Press Review: Saturday Night Fever at The Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ A fantastic feel-good evening of entertainment

Based on the smash-hit 1977 film starring John Travolta, with one of the biggest movie soundtracks in history, Saturday Night Fever has arrived at The Alexandra Theatre.

Directed by Bill Kenwright, Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony Manero (Jack Wilcox), an Italian-American living in Brooklyn, New York with his family. Working as a paint clerk during the week, Tony lives for the weekend where he is the undisputed king of the local disco. When a dance competition is announced, he meets the beautiful and talented dancer Stephanie Mangano (Rebekah Bryant) and convinces her to become his partner. 

As the lead, Jack Wilcox had big shoes to fill. A talented dancer, he portrayed a much nicer, more vulnerable and less gritty character, whose chemistry with the equally talented Rebekah Bryant was highly convincing. Bryant also portrayed a far less abrasive character as Stephanie, with a voice that was as good as her dancing. As a couple, their sequences together were an absolute joy to watch. 

There are multiple sub-plots throughout in Tony’s relationships with his family, his brother Frank Junior’s (Marios Nicolaides) decision to leave the priesthood, his poor treatment and dismissive nature of Annette (Billie Hardy) who is in love with him, and the dynamics with his friends Joey (Dominic Gore), Double – J (Liam Morris), Gus (James Brice) and Bobby C (Harry Goodson-Bevan). The stand-out performance of the evening was Harry Goodson-Bevan’s portrayal of Bobby C. Naive, sweet and desperate for help with the situation he finds himself in (and with the most convincing and consistent accent of the evening), Goodson-Bevan was completely captivating in his professional theatre debut.

The show follows a semi-jukebox format, with the majority of the songs performed by ‘the Bee Gees’ on a platform above the stage – the outstanding, note-perfect trio of Barry (AJ Jenks), Robin (Oliver Thomson) and Maurice (Drew Ferry) – who, when combined with Jeremy Wooton’s superb live band, were so good that at times they were somewhat distracting. With hits including Stayin’ Alive, How Deep Is Your Love, Night Fever, Tragedy, More Than a Woman and the addition of 70s hits Disco Inferno and Boogie Shoes, it is undoubtedly the music that really makes the show, and what the audience really came to see. Should these three decide to become a touring tribute act, I would buy a ticket in a heartbeat. 

Gary McCann’s set design is equally impressive, with a Brooklyn backdrop, drop-down sections, stairs, an extremely clever use of a large mirror and lighting to represent the disco dance floor, and plenty of disco balls. 

Overall, Saturday Night Fever has a much lighter, more comical atmosphere than what I expected. While Saturday Night Fever is renowned for its choreography and music, the movie is hard-hitting and representative of the bleak economic times of the era, with underlying themes of racism, sexual assault, domestic violence and suicide. These were indeed covered within the show, but in short snapshots or simply merely alluded to rather than the in-depth plot and character development perhaps needed to realise the story in full. 

However, it’s a talented cast, whose energy and enthusiasm created such an electric atmosphere that the audience couldn’t help but join in, dancing and cheering with a well-deserved standing ovation. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, and well worth a watch.

Saturday Night Fever will be at The Alexandra Theatre from Tuesday 22nd November – Saturday 26th November 2022. Purchase your tickets here.

Image credits: Paul Coltas

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