Playbill On-Line is hosting a theatre tour to London's West End the week of June 28-July 5. Log in daily to read reviews of the shows, as seen by dedicated theatregoers like yourself!
Within hours of our landing at Heathrow and arrival at our hotel in historic Covent Garden, we were seated at the historic London Palladium for the stage adaptation of the 1977 film musical Saturday Night Fever, one of the hottest tickets in the West End.
As adapted by Nan Knighton (The Scarlet Pimpernel) the stage musical still tells the story of Tony Manero, pouting Brooklyn boy-toy who labors as a humble paint salesman during the week, but on Saturday night becomes king of the dance floor at the local 2001 Odyssey disco.
The concept for the stage version is to play the subtext on the top, by having the characters sing the Bee Gees songs which, in the film, were sung by the Bee Gees themselves on the soundtrack. Comments on the action, like "Stayin' Alive," "More Than a Woman," "How Deep Is Your Love" and "If I Can't Have You," are now sung directly by the characters they concern.
Several other Bee Gees songs ("What Kind of Fool," "Tragedy," "Immortality") have been interpolated, especially in Act II, to give the main characters some big solos. Here's how the Playbill On-Line critics-for-the-week reviewed Saturday Night Fever.
Sandra Miron of Texas:
It makes me want to dig out my bell bottoms! It brings back so many memories. It's great fun. I'm seeing so many dance steps I used to do myself: the Bump, this thing they do with their hands [links fingers and makes a serpentine motion with the arms]. I think this would be a blast [in the US], a smash. There are enough people of the right age who saw it [the movie] when it first came out, who are the same age as the characters in the show. Now they're -- supposedly -- grown up. I think they'd love to see it again.
Albert T. Kim:
It's a really great dance show but they need to make the book stronger. It's about choosing your destiny. There are so many great themes and issues in it -- it COULD be a strong book musical. . . Their Stephanie [Anita Louise Combe] is a wonderful dancer, but felt like she'd had a dialect coach and wasn't as natural as the woman playing Annette [Tara Wilkinson]. She was very strong.
Flora Good of New York:
The songs just aren't melodious and the dancing was repetitious. I kept falling asleep through the whole first act, and every time I woke up, it looked like the same song. I'm a little [jet-lagged] but if it were really grabbing me, I wouldn't be falling asleep.
Caroline Bonacci of New York:
I didn't really like this kind of music in a theatrical setting. I guess I just don't think of musicals with this kind of music. They overdo the American accents. The cast is very talented. The dancing is great. I don't know [if the production would do well on Broadway].
Henriette Richman of Florida:
It's full of excitement. It's alive. I loved it. It just put a smile on my face.
Celeste Fried of Colorado:
The dancing is fine but the sound level is too high. I was sitting like this [fingers in ears]. The choreographer [Arlene Phillips] did a good job but I don't feel the young man [understudy Michael Rouse] is as graceful as he should be.
Juliet Fried of Colorado:
The sound level is taking away the enjoyment for me.
Traceyrose Zappola of New York:
The choreography is excellent. It's just like the movie. We saw [the 1994 Broadway revival of] Grease! and it was like a concert; at least here there's a story.
Nunzio Zappola of New York:
The lead [Rouse] is not doing such a great job. I saw him drop his hand [to support himself] at one point.
Evelyn Schentes of Texas:
I think their Brooklynese sounds forced. It doesn't sound natural.
Evelyn Schentes of Texas:
The second act was "poifect." It had more meat to it. It made it more than a musical revue.
Alice Pappalardo of New York:
I thought it was great. The dancing was great. Those kids [the dancing chorus] do a fantastic job. I'm not sure how it would do in New York. They were a lot of young people [standing and cheering at curtain calls] but in New York there are a lot of older theatregoers.
Edward Price of Texas:
The dialog was very weak, especially at the end. It wasn't a climax. But I loved the dancing and the songs. The dancing and singing were brilliant. [Simon Greiff as Bobby C, who commits suicide in the story] stole the whole show. He was the strongest character in the show. He really played with the role well.
Ronald Woan of Massachusetts:
The usual lead [Adam Garcia] must have been a stronger singer. [Michael Rouse] was too subdued. I didn't really feel connected to him. In the movie you really related to Tony Manero. I didn't think he was well developed [on stage]. I thought the first act was really weak. The story wasn't hard to follow but it didn't provide yo with enough emotional connection.
Tomorrow: the final preview of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind