BWW Review: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER at Media Theatre
The story struck a nerve; the sub-culture of disco scene and its sub culture, the mirror ball, bell bottoms and pre-AIDS promiscuity. Soon the story made it to Broadway, featuring disco songs by The Bee Gees, whose album became one of the best-selling soundtracks of all times.
The Bee Gees catalogue commences with Tony and the company's opening number "Stayin' Alive", choreographed by Christian Ryan. It was a rousing and energetic send up to all the then iconic but now rather quaint dance moves we remember from the era. Another entertaining production number "Disco Inferno" had the audience nodding in rhythm to the strong beat, led by the powerful and many-octave range of Candy Tamara Della Anderson. Anderson also nails the Act II opener, 'Nights on Broadway'. Her DJ partner Monty (JP Dunphy) and rock n roll a tune as well.
Our hero, Tony Manero (Jesse Corbin) has a dead-end job, even deader end buddies and a dysfunctional family. His sanctum sanctorum, the one place he finds meaning in life is the disco. And wow, can the 'cut' Corbin posture and pose, thrust his pelvis and yes...dance like Travolta. (Every woman in the audience was wishing they were single)! Corbin is a fine actor playing a character with a full palate of emotions.
With a competition upcoming at the disco, Tony encounters Stephanie (Melissa Rapelje), the one partner with whom he knows will command the brass ring. Stephanie plays hard to get, an attitude as unfamiliar to him as an errant hair on his manicured head. Rapelje is a triple threat (along with doing great "Brooklynese). A beautiful, lilting singing voice, she soars in 'What Kind of Fool' and her duet with Tony, "100 Reasons' is melodic and soulful.
The odd lady out and wannabe lover of Tony, Annette (Anna Ferrigno) is an excellent dancer as well and delivers her disco 'torch' song 'If I Can't Have You' touched the hearts of many in the audience.
The tune 'Stuck' sung by Bobby (Ronnie Keller), Tony, Stephanie and Pauline (Kelsey Hodgkiss) was interesting in that it symbolized how the characters felt so captive in this suppressed environment. The same could be said of 'Dog Eat Dog', sung by Tony's gang (think Jets in WSS), Bobby, Joey (Luke Bradt), Double J (Carl Nathaniel Smith) and Gus (Andy Spinoza).
Matthew Miller, Scenic Designer, used projections to great effect in the various scenes: Tony's home, the disco, Verrazano Bridge, etc. Costume design by Ryn Smith was period specific. And yes, we do see the iconic white suit...and the pose!
An 8 piece live band headed by Conductor Ben Kapilow keeps the energy going at Nascar speed.
There is little that Director Jesse Cline can do, but the show could abide at a prettier pace sans the sub plot of the out of wedlock pregnancy of Pauline with Bobby. One sub plot might do it, i.e. Tony's brother Frank Jr (Marshall Roy) leaving the priesthood and leaving their mother (Monica Crane) apoplectic (to understate!)
Media is a great restaurant town. There are about 10 that offer discounts. Just show your tickets. We had a scrumptious dinner at Spasso.
Through June 9 Media Theatre 610.891.0100
Next Up: FOREVER PLAID August 8 - 25