Retro. Manero. Boogie shoes. Brooklyn – New York Circa 70’s is where bump & grind rules. When you watch the narcissist Tony Manero on the dance floor swivel his hips with much gusto, you’ll find yourself sighing “What do you know, disco ain’t dead.” SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, the Musical is a brand-new production and one of the most loved dance stories of all time. The 2015 Asian Tour of the West End and Broadway iconic dance musical featured a revamped script and completely re-conceptualised production. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER’s Asian Tour, its first in eight years,featured an international cast from the US and Manila, Philippines.
With a rated-R production, audience were made to travel back to the 70’s in New York with Tony Manero, played by Broadway actor Brandon Rubendall (as he burns the dance floor and joins a life-changing dance competition.) As what SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER says, “When John Travolta walked on to the dance floor in the smash hit film Saturday Night Fever, it changed the way we dance forever.” True, comparison with Travolta and Rubendall clouded our minds but Rubendall nailed it. Feisty dance moves, smooth as silk voice. He adapted his own style of ad-libbing about his hair and it’s enough to say he acquired the Travolta’s merit.
Furthermore, the rest of the cast were all vocally adept; had seen Filipinos donning wigs and swaggering Caucasian moves and all – in which I find them ain’t odd but rather convincing. What’s commendable aside from the cast is the swift change of the set and lighting design; from Tony’s room, the dance studio, the disco itself- even the fascinating shots of the Brooklyn Bridge. The songs did justice, you bet it was a challenge not to do shoulder-shimmying and tap our foot while being confined on our chair. The highly drilled dance routines with high-adrenaline movements by Manero and the cast, a total feast for the eyes. Rubendall’s well-sculpted abs- what a sight to behold; hey, schmexy is the word. Stage actresses from the Philippines Carla Forteza, Mikkie Bradshaw stole several scenes; their voices crystal clear that exude the familiar flavour of women nursing a broken heart. Their wit and grace displayed on stage is impressive.
Just as one thought SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER was pure salty language, youth violence, Catholicism guilt, rape, abortion, chauvinism and all, this musical remains to be a constant eye opener. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER is as immersive and peculiarly moving. Finding one’s actual purpose in life, dancing not just to the beat of the music but to life’s hurdles and challenges. In the end, trying to survive and continue finding inspiration even if you’re dancing to the nostalgic era of the 70’s. After all opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.