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Review: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

Review: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

The show is "staying alive" through November 12

During the pre-show announcements for Dutch Apple's production of Saturday Night Fever, an actor wished a happy 75th birthday to an audience member. My first thought was to wonder if this elderly person would appreciate, or even recognize the show. Then I did a bit of mental math, and realized that the show's Tony Manero would be about the same age, if he was a real person alive today. This fact caught me off-guard, and made me reflect on the inevitable march of time and the constantly evolving definition of nostalgia.

Saturday Night Fever the musical is incredibly true to its source. For example, there were dozens of very specific lines of dialogue about things like "dripless spaghetti sauce" and "having coffee with Joe Namath" that were taken word for word from the film's script.

While these lines probably gave people warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia thinking about the movie, I don't know if they were particularly necessary. Musicals based on popular films often work best when there are significant and interesting differences. For example, The Full Monty changes its setting from England to America, and Sister Act changes its time period from the 90's to the 70's. Such choices prevent the live show from seeming like a night of déjà vu.

Déjà vu isn't always a bad thing. The dance moves, the iconic white suit, the Bee Gees songs, they are all there and done very well. In fact, when the show does try to squeak in a new song or two, it temporarily takes us out of the story.

Regardless of my opinion of the show, Dutch Apple features a lot talent in its cast. Matt Henningsen plays a great Tony Manero, and he has large platform shoes to fill. He is a great dancer, and has a certain cocky swagger about him that would make Travolta proud. Payton Moledor is equally talented as Stephanie. She has an impressive voice, and can belt out a phrase as needed. I also like the unique cadence of her delivery that made her sound distinct from the other Brooklynites.

Other enjoyable performance include Kyle Kowalewski's turn as Bobby and Alexandra Tarsinov's portrayal of Annette. Both actors displayed intense vulnerability. Both wanted nothing more than the love and approval of Tony, but with different outcomes.

A huge shout out to audience favorite, David Tancair who played the flamboyant Pete. As a critic, I love and admire when an actor takes a small part and enthusiastically brings it to life. His humor, attitude, and sass were a delight.

If you ever owned a leisure suit or drank a can of Billy beer, this show has something for you. However, if you expect something beyond a live version of the 1977 movie, you might be disappointed.

This production is "staying alive" now through November 12.

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