BWW Review: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER at Noel S. Ruiz Theatre
While disco may be dead, its spirit is alive and well at the Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale through August 19.
Based on the 1977 film starring John Travolta, the musical tells a coming of age story of Tony, a working class young man from Brooklyn who escapes from the reality of his life at a local dance club. However, his life begins to change with the appearance of the vivacious dancer Stephanie who agrees to be his partner in a dance contest.
CM regular Steve Cottonaro once again succeeds at portraying an iconic John Travolta character - he appeared as Danny Zuko in the theatre's production of "Grease" in May - with his strong vocals, dancing and charisma. The talented Ashley Nicastro plays his leading lady, impressing with her powerful voice and acting chops, especially so in an Act II rendition of "What Kind of Fool."
The production shines its brightest with its large scale dance numbers such as "Disco Inferno" and "Night Fever" featuring a phenomenal ensemble of singers and dancers, who are enhanced by perfectly tailored period costumes by Ronald Green III and hypnotic sets by PatRick Grossman. Providing vocals for these stand out numbers are Matt Quinn as DJ Monty and Alyssa Caracciolo as Candy. Both performers exhibit great skill as they execute these challenging Bee Gees classics.
While the musical's book is bogged down with multiple subplots, the actors in this particular production overcome its weaknesses with compelling performances. Ryan Cavanagh - who also served as the show's choreographer - brings charm to the naive Bobby C, a friend of Tony's who is torn between a carefree lifestyle and marriage to his on and off girlfriend Pauline, played by an endearing Kelsey Gronda. Jessica Ader-Ferretti also shines as the tragic Annette, who yearns for Tony despite his rejection.
Ultimately, there is not one weak link in the bunch of this large and masterful cast or crew. Every performance will inspire you to put on your "Boogie Shoes" and lose yourself in a time of jumpsuits and disco balls.
"Saturday Night Fever" is presented by The Noel S. Ruiz Theatre of Oakdale, Long Island through August 19. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-218-2810 or visit www.cmpac.com
Adapted for the stage by Robert Stigwood, featuring songs by The Bee Gees. Directed by Michael T. Mehmet, Musical Direction by Matthew W. Surrico, Choreography by Ryan Cavanagh, Scenic Design by PatRick Grossman, Costume Design by Ronald Green III, Lighting Design by Alison Weinberger, Sound Design by Nicolette Carosi, Stage Management by Amanda Wenchel.
Starring: Steve Cottonaro as Tony Manero, Ashley Nicastro as Stephanie Mangano, Jessica Ader-Ferretti as Annette, Ryan Cavanagh as Bobby C, David DiMarzo as Joey, Matthew Paredi as Double J, Anthony Licari as Gus, Kelsey Gronda as Pauline, Alyssa Caracciolo as Candy, Matt Quinn as Monty, Michael Sherwood as Frank Manero Sr., Linda Pentz as Flo Manero, Kenneth Kopolovicz as Frank Jr., April Hoops as Linda Maero, Barry Johnson as Mr. Fusco, Erich Grathwohl as Pete, Joseph Bbry as Jay/Salesman, Savannah Beckford as Maria, Edward Martinez as Cesar, Kathleen Lewand as Doreen, Jessica Donlon as Connie/Shirley, Mathew Kadam as Gabriel, Brendan Bitler as Chester, Nicholas Fandaros, Maegan Bitler, Julianne Viola and Anthony Panarello as ensemble.
Photo Credit: Lisa Schindlar