Review: 'Saturday Night Fever' In Wimbledon

The disco classic is stayin' alive as an SW19 stage show

As the nights draw in, it's that time of year when we all need a pick-me-up and what better way than to bop down to New Wimbledon Theatre to enjoy this new theatre production of Saturday Night Fever.

Bill Kenwright’s new production is making its nationwide tour debut in Wimbledon, forty years since the classic film was first released in the UK.

In case you need reminding, it tells the story of Tony Manero, and his road to dancing success. The musical features the Bee Gees’ greatest hits including Stayin’ Alive, How Deep Is Your Love, Night Fever, Tragedy and More Than a Woman as well as 70’s favorites Boogie Shoes and Disco Inferno.

Saturday Night Fever in Wimbledon

This stage version includes the Bee Gees played by Ed Handoll (Barry Gibb), Alastair Hill (Maurice Gibb) and Matt Faull (Robin Gibb) who are almost ever-present on stage singing the disco classics.

They gave a convincing performance as the falsetto-singing brothers and really made the audience feel like they'd stepped back in time.

The show opens with a breath-taking performance of Stayin' Alive as the whole company struts their stuff in the Brooklyn disco where paint shop worker Tony Manero is the local star.

He's played by Richard Winsor in his first leading role in a  major musical, and will be familiar to viewers of TV's Casualty.

His dance performance, with choreography by Bill Deamer, was impressive. He also had a stage presence that went some way to match the role made famous by John Travolta.

While Winsor didn't have a singing part, almost everyone else in the cast did, and he expressed himself well enough on the dancefloor. The stage designer had cleverly combined a huge mirror with the disco-light floor to give a great effect as the cast danced the night away. Of course there are glitterballs and strobe lights too!

There's still a dark side to the story to help recreate the life of this disco hustler, with the scenes in his family home taking us a world away from the disco and practice studio. The issues of abortion, rape, suicide and drugs are all in there as well - making this not quite a show for youngsters.

But the joy of dancing is the over-riding theme and the whole audience rose at the end to dance to a megamix of Disco Inferno, Night Fever and You Should Be Dancing. Quite simply this show is a lot of fun as well as a trip down memory lane for some of us.

Joining Richard Winsor in the show is Kate Parr in the role of Stephanie, Owen Broughton (Gus), Michael Cortez (Joey), Raphael Pace (Bobbie C) and Jared Thompson (Double Jay).

The cast is completed by: Philip Aiden (Frank Senior); Anna Campkin (Annette); Faizal Jaye (DJ Monty); Melody Jones (Flo Manero); Marios Nicolaides (Frank Junior); and the ensemble: Rhianne Alleyne, Javier Cid, Jess Ellen, Andrew Gordon Watkins, Olivia Kate Holding, Carly Miles, Aimee Moore, Nathan Ryles and Brett Shiels.

Saturday Night Fever runs at New Wimbledon Theatre until September 8.

By Sue Choularton

August 16, 2018