By Michall Jeffers
Nostalgia rules! Welcome to 1977 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The disco era lives, complete with chunky high heels, hot pants, pointy collars, Afros, paisley, posters of Rocky and Serpico, bell bottoms, and black leather jackets. You name it, Saturday Night Fever has got it. And not for nothing, the music of the Bee Gees can still set toes tapping, and blood rising. No one who lived through the era can hear “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Jive Talkin,’” and especially “Stayin’ Alive” without being transported back in the day to the “hottest summer on record in New York,” the July 13th blackout, and the news about Son of Sam.
The show opens with sirens blaring and a backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge. On the other side of the river, the lights of Manhattan, the Promised Land, are twinkling in the distance. But for Tony Manero (Jacob Tischler), the glamourous borough might as well be on the dark side of the moon. Tony is trapped in a go-nowhere job at a paint store; his bitter dad, Frank (Ray DeMattis), has been laid off, and Tony has to supplement the unemployment checks with his pitiful salary. What he really wants is to keep his hair looking perfect, buy jazzy clothes, and dance, dance, dance. Tony only comes alive when he’s basking in the adoration of all who behold him burning up the floor at the “2001 Odyssey” disco. Tony wants it all right now, but as he’s advised, “You don’t screw the future; the future screws you.”
Adding to his family’s misery, Tony’s much worshipped brother, Father Frank Jr.(Frankie Paparone), has had it with the priesthood. Tony just has to escape; hanging out with his goombas just doesn’t cut it anymore. When Tony discovers pretty Stephanie Mangano (Alexandra Matteo), a dancer who’s just as gifted and determined as he is, he decides that making her his partner will assure his win in a local dance contest. He desperately needs the prize money to get up and out. Stephanie considers herself above Tony, because she works in an office in Manhattan, and meets celebrities. But she soon falls for his charm, and the two quickly find out they are indeed compatible on the dance floor. This breaks the heart of Tony’s old partner, Annette (Gianna Yanelli), when she sees the obvious chemistry between Tony and Stephanie. She wails “If I Can’t Have You” into the night, but Tony and Stephanie are blissfully unaware; they’re on their way to glory.
Saturday Night Fever is based on the 1977 film that made John Travolta into a star. The Bee Gees soundtrack soared to the top of the charts and stayed there. The story originated with a 1975 article in New York Magazine, and on Broadway, the stage adaptation ran for over 500 performances. Although the musical has been presented all over the world, it remains steeped in New York accents and attitudes, both of which are strongly in evidence in this production at Westchester Broadway Theatre.
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, Westchester Broadway Theatre, 1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford NY
2 hrs, 50 min, ½ hour intermission
Cast: Jacob Tischler (Tony Manero), Alexandra Matteo (Stephanie Mangano), Gianna Yanelli (Annette), Chris Collins-Pisano (Bobby C.), Pat McRoberts (Monty), Raynor Rubel (Gus), Joe Moeller (Double J.), Chris Hlinka (Joey), Sandy Rosenberg (Flo Manero), Ray DeMattis (Frank Manero), Isabella D’Erasmo & Hannah Moore (alternating as Linda Manero)
Director/choreographer: Richard Stafford
Musical Director: Ryan Edward Wise, Set & Costume design: Michael Bottari & Ronald Case, Lighting Design: Andrew Gmoser, Sound Design: Jonathan Hatton & Mark Zuckerman
September 15 – November 27, 2016
December 29, 2016 – January 29, 2017