BWW Review: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER at Theatre By The Sea
Big Wow Moments and Lots of Fun
Theatre by the Sea's production of Saturday Night Fever, the stage version of the 1977 movie, is a fast and fun night of musical theatre. The production is directed by Richard Sabellico and the action is swift - heavy moments quickly give way to the frothy.
Featuring timeless songs by the Bee Gees, it's brimming with so many wow moments that they vastly outweigh any rough or weak spots.
Top among these wow moments are the performances by Ebony Deloney as Candy, who sings at the disco and Brian Ashton Miller as the outrageous disc jockey, Monty. Their vocals, both alone and together, are outstanding and their rendition of More than a Woman was pure joy. Deloney's commanding vocals rival that of the original recording artists and can stand up to any icon of the disco age. And Miller, from his unforgettable entrance to every vocal that followed, is a performer you just want to see more of.
The sets by TBTS resident scenic designer, Kyle Dixon, are a delicious array of eye candy. A balance of realism with a touch of that misty 1970s-era treatment of nostalgia, they are inventive, full of meaningful details, and swap in and out swiftly to create fully crafted environments for the action, taking us from the homey Manero family dining room to the brilliant world of the 2001 Odyssey disco. And elevated tracks and their supports frame the stage and carry spray-painted subway cars, that like Mr. Roger's trolley, symbolically transport the audience to another time and a Brooklyn that no longer exists.
The Manero family features skilled performances by Gary Lynch as Frank and Deborah Tranelli as Flo, with Annie Rossi as little sister, Linda, and together they create a tense, convincing family dynamic for Schyler Conaway to portray Tony Manero, the cocky 19-year-old on the brink of showing some sign of maturity.
Tony's love interest, dancer Stephanie Mangano, is played by the lovely Melissa Rapelje with an appropriate New York kind of cool confidence and a well-crafted Brooklyn accent.
Sam Brackley, as the conflicted Bobby and Alexa Shanahan as his girlfriend "in trouble," Pauline, both gave moving performances.
The looks created for Pauline's character were particularly evocative. As she was one of the first characters on stage, her crimped hair and dark eyeliner[NO1] really identified the era of the late 1970s. The work of costume and hair design team of Paula Peasely-Ninestein, David Costa-Cabral, and Meg Kane evoked the overall style of the era without relying on clichés.
Dance is a crucial aspect of this show, and with choregraphy by Charlie Sutton, the numbers thrill-particularly the first act's final number, You Should be Dancing and Victoria Biro and Brett Pederson's energetic Open Sesame in Act II.
Under the baton of conductor and keyboardist, Jacob Priddy, the TBTS orchestra -Mike Sartini, Nathan Urdangen, Dave Gries, Clay Nordhill, Dave Greer, Greg Whitaker, Nigel Yancey and Rich Marchetti-performed the show's disco-era hits to perfection.
However, the songs created for the stage version of Saturday Night Fever pale next to the iconic hits of the era that appeared in the original movie, and feel out of place, simply there to move the story along.
Saturday Night Fever runs until September 8 at Theatre By the Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck, R. I.
For more information, see www.theatrebythesea.com.