Zach Perrin & Stephanie Inglese. Photo: Derby Dinner Playhouse
Saturday Night Fever
Based on Paramount/RSO Film and story by Nik Cohn
Adapted for the stage by Robert Stigwood in collaboration with Bill Oaks
Written by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti
Directed by Lee Buckholz
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
At the risk of sounding like a millennial, I admit that I thought disco music was corny. The fame and admiration Saturday Night Fever gained were indeed baffling to me. I mean come on, the dancing was fun to watch but the music was dated even for its time and the storyline was way over the top.
That being said, it is truly an iconic time capsule of pop culture that needs to be celebrated. Since its blockbuster premiere in 1977, the film has been endlessly parodied, mocked, referenced, and praised. Among its accolades was a stage adaptation that premiered in 1998. This version of the film has danced its way to Derby Dinner Playhouse, and this production delivers indulgent glitz with top-notch choreography accompanied by that famous soundtrack.
You definitely get what you pay for with this production. If you come expecting to see John Travolta’s famous dance moves on a brightly lit dance floor set to tunes by the Brothers Gibb that make you want to boogie, then look no further. As an ensemble, the cast dances their way through the show with grace and style. Pauline’s (Cami Glauser) rendition of “Jive Talkin” is feisty while Annette (Joey Bannigan) belts “If I Can’t Have You” with a heartbreaking soul. Tony and his friends from the neighborhood (Zach Perrin, Matt Petromilli, Kylan Ross, Rhett Warner, and Will Callahan) pose, flex, and dance with infectious, audacious energy in “Boogie Shoes.” As Candy, Katelyn Webb steals her scenes in the 2001 Odyssey club. Without a doubt, her renditions of “Night Fever” and “Disco Inferno,” are worth watching above anything else.
The feathered hair, polyester, and platform shoes are abundant while the choreography presents a flashback to the post-Watergate era before autotune and the Internet. Some things are essential to properly channel Saturday Night Fever. For instance, a white leisure suit and gold medallions would be sorely missed if not included in the costuming. Yet, the show’s aesthetic straddles the line of tacky when attempting to make bold choices. When considering the bigger picture, it is clear why disco music was so clearly made parodied during this time yet warmheartedly and enthusiastically embraced.
Tony Manero sings, dances, and dreams of a life outside of Brooklyn. Zach Perrin delivers a well-rounded performance as Tony. He brings strong dance moves that hit every mark in “Staying Alive,” and “You Should Be Dancing” and a softer edge near at the end of the show in “More Than A Woman.” As Tony uses dance to escape his family drama, class struggles, pressures of toxic masculinity, and everything else, Perrin provides a romantic hero quality. This is made even more evident as he pursues Stephanie, played with vigor by Stephanie Inglese. Inglese brings a fierce bite that puts Perrin’s Tony in his place. Inglese and Perrin’s dancing bubbles with chemistry and passion as the two grow closer towards their dreams and each other.
I would be lying if the show did not make me wanna put on my boogie shoes. What the original story may have lacked in substance, it makes up for in dance both in 1977 and now. While disco may have died, this dance-infused musical tale has stood the test of time.
Saturday Night Fever
February 19-March 29, 2020
Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, IN 47129
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!
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