Only a few bars in to the overture and there are people tapping their feet to the beat - that is the power of Saturday Night Fever and in particular the Bee Gees’ hit score for the original 1977 movie. Despite a stint in the West End back in 1998 and an extensive UK tour of late, the musical’s popularity never diminishes. And the result of all that recent venue-hopping has ensured that this is a polished production in which an impressive, energetic ensemble look very much at home.
While Stephane Anelli, in the lead role of Tony Manero, does not always set the stage alight, he is a fine dancer and quite brilliant at exuding charm and arrogance. Zoe Ebsworth, as Stephanie Mangano, acts well and makes a feisty dance partner for Tony, although her wavering accent is a little irritating. Alex Jessop also deserves a mention for his touching portrayal of Bobby C.
Not surprisingly though much of the pre-publicity for the show surrounded the casting of Kym Marsh, former member of Popstars band Hear’say, and Shaun Willamson of EastEnders fame. Marsh is extremely likeable as Annette who sings sweetly of her unrequited love for Tony. In contrast, Williamson’s Monty the DJ is a large, camp Huggy Bear of a character who as well as being in good voice, knows how to get laughs and work a crowd.
Director/choreographer Arlene Phillips’ fast-paced and original approach is still very much intact, while designer David Shields cleverly brings home the contrast between the reality of Brooklyn and the glamour of disco.