Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A caffeinated feat of fitness and militarised synchronicity
A Prozacian hit of all-singing, all-dancing happiness .....

Saturday Night Fever

on tour , Wales Millennium Centre , October-25-05
Saturday Night Fever by on tour Once in awhile, there’s a synergetic collision of culture, society and entertainment when all three splice together happily to create a genuine decade-defining Pop Culture Moment (PCM.) Elvis scandalising 1950s America with his swivel/sneer shtick; Madonna during her Blond Ambition incarnation; Michael Moore’s docu-polemics–they’ve all hardwired into the zeitgeist, not only encapsulating it but re-jigging it, too. In 1977, John Travolta peacock-preened his way onto our cinema screens in Saturday Night Fever and into the iconic pantheon of classic PCMs. The film abridges the 1970s in one cinematic swipe: the clothes, the music, the search to be Somebody. It also spawned disco and the Bee Gees’ 20million-selling soundtrack so it was a natural move to give it the stage musical treatment.

Now the show is on a nationwide tour and tonight Cardiff gets Travolta’d. I secretly adore this type of thing but my companion for the evening is The Boyfriend who describes musicals as “shallow and pointless.” This should be fun. From the moment the curtain goes up, though, it’s clear you’d have to be the world’s greatest curmudgeon to resist this show. Two minutes in and even The Boyfriend cracks a smile and–crikey!–starts tapping his foot. Until you listen to the musical numbers back-to-back you don’t realise the sheer raft of hits the soundtrack generated; More Than A Woman, You Should Be Dancin’, Stayin’ Alive et al are all present and correct and delivered with gutsy élan.

On the acting front, everyone gives energised and engaging performances that avoid the stage-school cheesiness that characterises much musical theatre. Top honours, though, go to Sean Mulligan who reprises the Travolta role with confidence and individuality and gives Tony Manero his own spin rather than resorting to robotic impersonation. The choreography also deserves a shout-out; it’s a caffeinated feat of fitness and militarised synchronicity. Dismiss productions like these as silly fluff if you want–and no, it’s not Shakespeare–but that’s missing their point. Their point is to provide a Prozacian hit of all-singing, all-dancing happiness which, let’s face it, in these depressed days has to be A Good Thing.

Reviewed by: Jason Jones

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