Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER Hits the Walnut!

The year is 1979 and in Brooklyn, New York, Tony Manero, a young man with a dead-end job and an extraordinary ability to dance, has only one ambition in life - to become the disco king. When he meets Stephanie, who also dreams of a world beyond Brooklyn, they decide to train together for a dance competition and their lives begin to change forever. Based on the 1977 film that became a cultural phenomenon, the electrifying score is packed with legendary hits from The Bee Gees including the classics: "Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever," "Jive Talking," "You Should Be Dancing" and "How Deep is Your Love?"

"Saturday Night Fever" is to The Bee Gees what "Mamma Mia" is to Abba; a plot that heavily hinges on one musical number after another, regardless if the transition works. Fortunately the dancing is so exciting and addictive to watch that you almost forget the 'real life' drama taking place between the gyrations and rapid speed dance scene changes. Richard Stafford's choreography is exhaustingly stunning and the entire cast leap, kick and spin with little effort. Jack Mehler's lighting which includes the mandatory disco ball adds another dimension to the spectacle. Sets by Peter Beriberi are minimal which allows the focus on the characters and the dancing, of course.

The story is based upon a 1976 New York Magazine article by British writer Nik Cohn, "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night"; in the mid-1990s. However the "feel good" musical seems a confusing fantasy when the music stops and real life in sets in. These disco obsessed characters come together amid a less than stellar home life where an accidental death, a pregnancy, gang warfare, casual racism and, most troublingly of all, a needy woman named Annette who becomes so obsessed with Tony the hot dancer that her entire life falls to bits. "

That being said there are some outstanding emotional performances and vocal highlights from the lead females; the go- getting Alexandra Matteo, sporting a spot on New York accent, has all the right moves as Stephanie and Nicole Colón as the needy the Annette stuns the crowd with her vocals as does Crystal Joy, the club singer who takes "Nights On Broadway" to the next level! Alexandra Matteo's Tony clearly handles the Brooklyn Boy accent and the dance moves sufficiently enough, yet doesn't quite possess the naturalness or passion of the character while dancing. But then who can compare to Travolta!? Philly theater fans are clearly tickled by the unrecognizable Ben Dibble looking more like a long- haired Barry Gibb. Dibble, club DJ, sings and sways in his disco cape and heavily clad jewelry as only he can! Standout performances are offered by the ill-fated, poorly matched love duet of Bobby C. played by Will Stephen Connell and Pauline played by Kathyn Miller. There's something for everyone with this contagious dancing and music. Whether you are Bee Gees fan, Disco child of the late 70's or a baby boomer bopping down memory lane "You Should Be Dancing" this summer at the Walnut.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - plays at the Walnut Street Theater, Philadelphia through July 16th. For tickets and information visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org or call 215.574.3550

Production Photos: Mark Garvin


Related Articles View More Philadelphia Stories   Shows

From This Author Pati Buehler