Theatre Review: Saturday Night Fever – Opera House, Manchester


This review was originally written for The Public Reviews

Dust off your dancing suit and polish up your shoes because Saturday Night Fever is back in town!

Inspired by the 1977 film starring John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony Manero (Danny Bayne), a young man with one ambition – to become the disco king. He teams up with Stephanie (Naomi Slights), a young dancer who also dreams of a world beyond Brooklyn, and together they decide to train for a dance competition. It features an epic soundtrack with legendary disco hits from the Bee Gees including Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, Jive Talking, You Should Be Dancing and How Deep is Your Love?

While Saturday Night Fever is undoubtedly one of the most loved dance stories of all time, this particular production is more than just a mere disco-musical. Director Ryan McBryde does an excellent job of turning the sketchy plot into a gritty, hard-hitting New York street drama that is fresh, innovative and different.

The underlying themes of social aspiration, racial hatered and sexual yearning are emphasised through the musical numbers, with Bee Gees classics such as Stayin‘ Alive, Tragedy and You Should Be Dancing reworked into acoustic and accapella numbers, allowing the audience to listen and reflect on the lyrics.

Danny Bayne is superb as Tony Manero, captivating the audience with his charm, charisma, flawless vocals and electrifying dance moves. The atmosphere in the auditorium is electric as he smoothes his hair, flexes his muscles and dons the famous white suit to re-create disco’s most iconic arm-aloft pose.

Naomi Slights is equally strong as Stephanie. In addition to her exceptional skills as a dancer, which she executes with exceptional grace and finesse, Slights is also an incredibly talented singer and her duet of How Deep Is Your Love with Bayne is simply superb.

The pair are joined on stage by a hugely talented cast of actor-musicians who not only dance and sing, but also play musical instruments. Andrew Wright’s contemporary choreography is fresh, funky and captivating and the cast perform the ambitious dance moves with infectious enthusiasm and considerable skill.

The show’s abrupt finish is a little disappointing but the encore of high-energy, toe-tapping disco numbers help to resolve this, resulting in an energetic, exuberant and incredibly entertaining performance that is sure to leave you with a smile on your face. Who said disco was dead?

Runs until Saturday 29 November

Reviewer: Donna Kelly

Photo Nobby Clark