Review: Saturday Night Fever

Danny Bayne starts as Tony Manero. Picture: Comp
Danny Bayne starts as Tony Manero. Picture: Comp
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SATURDAY Night Fever - the movie that brought disco to the masses and changed the way millions of badly-coordinated men would dance at weddings forever.

* *


From the opening scene, where John Travolta struts down Brooklyn’s streets carrying a can of paint to the funky strains of the Bee Gees, you knew exactly what was in store.

Sadly, Ryan McBryde’s new version isn’t sure if it’s a jukebox musical or a hard-hitting drama. What we end up with is a garish tribute.

Danny Bayne, winner of ITV’s Grease Is The Word, does well to fill Travolta’s dance-shoes as slick, paint-shop assistant Tony Manero. He has the look, moves and the talent, but his enthusiasm never really reaches the stalls.

A basic tenet of disco music, symphony-orchestrated melodies, is substituted for over-utilised saxophones. Even the drummer, trapped inside a box, has seemingly never heard a disco beat before. Unsurprisingly, there’s no punch. If anyone was dancing, it was to the toilet come the intermission - some even got in a taxi and left.

The costumes, meanwhile, could have come straight from a fancy-dress shop. As for tackling the issues of racism, community tensions and pre-Aids promiscuity, well, let’s just say a lot of tetchy arguing doesn’t really cut it.

With choreography and singing that is passable, this production neither excites nor gives you any sense of the euphoria that existed on the disco floors of the late 1970s.

For those too young to remember, Saturday Night Fever tells the tale of a no-hoper whose only prospect is using his dancing talent to get him off the mean streets. The beauty of the movie was you cared about the characters. Here, they just remind you some things are best left in the Seventies.

Run ends Saturday