Watching Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre‘s presentation of Saturday Night Fever: The Musical last night, I wanted to break out my wedge-heeled shoes and learn how to hustle! Although Tuesday was opening night for Saturday Night Fever, the North Carolina Theatre and Broadway Series South made the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium crowd feel the fever of Saturday night!
Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, directed by Marcia Kash, is based on an article written by Nik Cohn in 1976 for New York Magazine, entitled “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night.” However, most people will recognize the story from Norman Wexler’s classic film Saturday Night Fever, which starred iconic dance king John Travolta.
Choreographer Marc Kimelman keeps the cast on their toes (no pun intended). He skillfully recreates old-favorite dances, such as The Hustle, which the cast brings alive. John Dunnett created some amazing costumes that were very fitting of the era and fun to watch.
The musical’s basic story line is the same as the film’s, but the musical is a little more lighthearted and less gritty than the movie. Triangle theatergoers are still treated to the disco musical creations of The Bee Gees, and will find themselves singing along to such Bee Gees hits as “Stayin’ Alive” and “Jive Talkin’,” and The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno.”
The film’s subplots, such as a teenage pregnancy, gang rivalry, accidental deaths, obsession, and the love triangles, are still there; but they get eclipsed over by the big dance numbers. You don’t really find yourself having time to really care about what happens to the characters; you just want to see them dance.
Matt Alfano portrays Tony Manero, the goof-off kid from Brooklyn with a dead-end job and lack of respect from his parents. Yet, when he is at the local discothèque, he demands attention and owns the dance floor. All the girls want to date him, and all the guys want to be him.
Matt Alfano plays Tony very differently from John Travolta’s film version of the character. In this production, Tony is less of a pretty boy and a little bit more gritty. I’m not sure that Alfano was suited vocally for this role, as many of the ensemble singers had much better voices. He simply did not have the high notes in his register and often screamed the lyrics. It was hard to understand some of his lines, partially due to the heavy Brooklyn accent and partially due to microphone issues. However, his dancing abilities were amazing! When he does the Russian-like knee jumps and midair toe touches, you can’t help but to say “Wow!”
Tony’s love interest Stephanie, played by Tessa Alves, helps him let his guard down and realize that he wants more out of life than just to dance. Alves has a beautiful voice, especially in the song “What Kind of Fool.” It is unfortunate that she had to hold back vocally when singing her duet with Tony on “How Deep Is Your Love.”
Other noteworthy performers are the actors who play Tony’s rowdy friends: Joey (Jak Barradell), Double J (Galen Johnson), Gus (Justin Stadnyk), and Bobby C (A.J. Simmons). They sang multiple songs, such as KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes” and “Jive Talkin'” as a fun quartet.
Scenic designer Adam Koch and lighting designer Brent Clark give the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium audience lots of wonderful visual interest. The set has a very downtown Brooklyn feel, and the transitions between scenes are mostly flawless.
The main backdrop that was used to transition scenes swung a lot from side to side when open, taking focus away from the actors in the scenes. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of microphone issues during Tuesday’s opening-night performance. They were either way too hot (loud), too soft, or didn’t work at all.
Despite a few technical glitches on opening night, this is a great fun show to see, so make sure you get your tickets before they sell out! You’ll find yourself saying “I want to put on my my my my my boogie shoes!”
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 14th Raleigh, NC Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/02/you-should-be-dancing-saturday-night-fever-the-musical-plays-raleigh-feb-14-19/.)
Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre present SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: THE MUSICAL at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15-17 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and 19 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
Duke Energy Center Box Office: 919-996-8700 or firstname.lastname@example.org (information only).
BSS GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-996-8707, email@example.com, or http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south/group-sales.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/844061.
2017 BSS SEASON: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south.
North Carolina Theatre: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
2016-17 NCT SEASON: http://nctheatre.com/show-season/201617-season.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18th, performance.
Saturday Night Fever (film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/4110/Saturday-Night-Fever/ (Turner Classic Movies page), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076666/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Fever (Wikipedia).
Saturday Night Fever: The Musical (1998 West End and 1999 Broadway musical): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/saturday-night-fever-7755 (Internet Broadway Database) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Fever_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Shannon Plummer-White is no stranger to the stage! She studied Musical Theater & Opera at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City, and has appeared in films such as Iron Man 3 and Safe Haven. She has also performed with the North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony. When she isn’t on stage or making magic behind the scenes, she can be found in the art studio playing with fire and molten glass. She is an animal advocate with a special love of cats. She has four rescued fur children and a very supportive husband. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.