Saturday, 31 December 2005

Saturday Night Fever, Melbourne, Dec 31, 2005

Saturday Night Fever 
Adapted for stage by Nan Knighton
 Produced by  Robert Stigwood, Adam Spiegel Productions, ICA and David Atkins (OK)
Where and When: State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne from 31 December 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Dec 31, 2004

It's official - the Bee Gees melodic, funky tunes still have audiences donning their Boogie Shoes in 2005.

The 1977 movie of Saturday Night Fever was a rocking success for both Bee Gees and producer, Robert Stigwood who is a producer of this stage adaptation.

The show rocks. Adam-Jon Fiorentino plays Italian stallion, Tony Mareno, with a huge grin and plenty of hip grinding.   His character looks uncannily like Travolta from the white suit and the finger-pointing pose right down to the strut.

The dancing features in this production directed and choreographed by Arlene Phillips. Fiorentino is a powerful, passionate and skilful dancer. His moves are faultless and he is a charismatic leader of a very polished dance corps.

He sings as Tony too but, as a singer, he makes a fantastic dancer. His voice is competent but his upper register is shaky.

There are a couple of raunchy voices. As Annette, the teenager who will sell her body for Tony, Monique Montez sings a bold version of If I Can't Have You.

Playing Tony's hapless friend, Bobby C., Darren Tyler belts out Tragedy with rocking style.

Renae Berry (OK) warms up as Stephanie, Tony's upwardly mobile Brooklyn broad hitting her straps in her solo song, What Kind of Fool and in a rousing duet, Nights on Broadway, with Montez.

Tony's clan of Brooklyn boys (Sean Mulligan, Christopher Parson, Nigel Turner-Carroll and Tyler) are a seething mob of testosterone-soaked machismo. They make Boogie Shoes and Jive Talkin' live again.

Dale Pengilly plays D.J. Monty with hilariously predatory disco sleaziness and plenty of buttock wiggling.  

Tony and Stephanie's More than A Woman duet is charming but the dancing gets a gold star in the Disco Dance competition at Monty's Odyssey 2001 disco.

Fiorentino and Berry's duet is romantic and pretty but the pulsing Hispanic duo takes the disco cake.

The narrative is thin and much of the movie's drama is removed from this adaptation. Bobby C's despair about his pregnant girlfriend climaxes in Tragedy but the painful issues of Tony's family and brother, Frank, (Mitchell Butel) the lapsed priest, are glossed over unsatisfactorily.

The chorus numbers, Stayin' Alive, You Should Be Dancin' and Jive Talkin' are topped by the spectacular dance finale in which the entire audience gets up to jive in their seats.

Saturday Night Fever is a grand way to dance in the New Year.

By Kate Herbert

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