Broadway's Fever Drops Dec. 30; Tour Begins March 3 in MN

By Robert Simonson
December 30, 2000

Saturday Night Fever, the stage version of the 1977 hit film which was a sensation in London but opened to a fairly blistering reception on Broadway will close on Dec. 30. Fever will have run 35 previews and 500 performances. The show opened on Broadway Oct. 21, 1999, after previews which began Sept. 28.

Saturday Night Fever, the stage version of the 1977 hit film — which was a sensation in London but opened to a fairly blistering reception on Broadway — will close on Dec. 30. Fever will have run 35 previews and 500 performances. The show opened on Broadway Oct. 21, 1999, after previews which began Sept. 28.

The initial Broadway cast was headed by James Carpinello, Paige Price and Orfeh (the latter two are still with the show and will remain until Dec. 30). Also populating the floor at the 2001 Odyssey discotheque were Bryan Batt (as DJ Monty, since departed for Seussical), Paul Castree, Richard H. Blake, Andy Blankenbuehler and Sean Palmer. The musical boasts a total cast of 43 and roughly a dozen dance numbers.

Carpinello wore the dancin' shoes of John Travolta as Bay Ridge boy Tony Manero. Price plays Stephanie, Tony's sassy dance partner and love interest. Sean Palmer replaced Carpinello on July 7.

The news of Fever's closing came the same day the producers of the Don Schlitz-Ken Ludwig musical, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, confirmed that their show will open at the Minskoff on April 26. Tom Sawyer comes to Broadway after an initial run at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, CT.

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The Saturday Night Fever U.S. tour will begin March 3, 2001, at Chicago’s Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, according to the Bill Evans press office. Robert Stigwood and Jon B. Platt will produce the tour, which is to reach San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Boston, Washington DC and Detroit, MI, booking currently through July 2002.

When the road show was first announced, producers asserted that it would boast a production the same size and scope at the New York show. But it now appears the musical will go the same way as The Scarlet Pimpernel and Ragtime— that is, a smaller cast will hit the road. The Fever tour will feature several fewer performers than does the Broadway show, producer Manny Kladitis told Playbill On-Line. Kladitis could not say the exact number of actors that would be cut, except that it would be less than ten.

Kladitis stated, furthermore, that the set for the touring show would match the New York version. Both Pimpernel and Ragtime saw their impressive scenic values shrink in the regions.

Heading the cast of the road show will be Richard Blake, who understudied the role of Tony Manero at the Minskoff Theatre until recently.

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Saturday Night Fever features many of the Bee Gees songs from the 1977 movie, including "Stayin' Alive" (which opens the show) and "Night Fever," and others that weren't, such as "Tragedy." Also thrown into the mix are K.C. and the Sunshine Band's "Boogie Shoes," Rick Dees' "Disco Duck," and Barry Gibb's "What Kind of Fool." All the songs are woven into the coming of-age story, often functioning as plot-furthering personal statements by the story's various Brooklyn-based dancin' fools.

Saturday Night Fever is adapted for the stage by Nan Knighton, in collaboration with Broadway newcomer Arlene Phillips (who directs and choreographs), Paul Nicholas and Robert Stigwood (who will produce with Manny Kladitis and David Rocksavage). Director Phillips has served as choreographer on such feature films as "Annie" and "Monty Python's Meaning of Life."