Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Tues 10th – Sat 14th Feb
7.30pm/ Matinees Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm
Wow! I’d forgotten how much I love the Bee Gees’! We arrived at the Festival Theatre in high spirits to see the musical Saturday Night Fever. I love the film and was excited to experience it live. To anyone who doesn’t know the story it’s set in 1970’s New York, and tells the tale of tale of Tony Manero, who’s stuck in a dead end job and dreams of escape from the drudgery of life through disco and dancing. A great cue for an incredible soundtrack by the Bee Gees’. The show opened with some ingenious set design, which was to become a stunning feature throughout the show. A multi layered stage dived into sliding boxes, a projection screen and simple flats that glided effortlessly between street and house, disco and dance studio, with absolute precision creating a captivating spectacle. Lighting design was sublime and the projections created amazing atmospheric scenes that the dancers then integrated into their choreography. This stole the show without shadow of a doubt.
Danny Bayne who played Tony was the star of the performance and a true disco dancer with moves that would shake them up on Strictly Come Dancing. He captured the part to a tee and held the audience in the palm of his hand with his acting and dazzling dancing. His voice however was not as strong as his hip swinging moves and, as the story is completely made up of songs, most of which we all know and love so well, there were some definite weaker moments in the singing. The boys in general, although bringing lots of youthful swagger to the show , all lacked the musical oomph that this musical demanded. These songs however were all to a certain degree saved by the club singer, Cici Howells who came in with mindbogglingly powerful harmonies to support the weaker voices, and her singing in comparison was in another league altogether. She was the epitome of disco diva glamour and was captivating as a character.
The stage design, as mentioned before, was just brilliant. The video screen doubled up as a screen which the singers stood behind, giving a 3D effect to the point that it took a few double takes to realise it was actually live singers behind it. Very clever and effective. The disco scenes were were also sublimely created with a magical light show, and boxes that moved around, changing from booth, to drum kit, and back to the bar which created almost a filmic feel of moving from wide shot to close up with ingenious use of props. The show came to it’s surprisingly dark and profound conclusions, and the light hearted momentum eased momentarily to create some very moving and poignant scenes that were a real insight to the morality of the time. The final love scene however felt like a bit of an anticlimax. Only after the actors had taken their bows did they all come back on for one all singing, all dancing finale. The audience where cheering and clapping along and the atmosphere was electric and left us on a buzzing high. I guess I just wished they’d got that level of engagement with the audience and energy in the crowd throughout the rest of the show.
All in all it’s was a great night out and was a beautifully choreographed piece of dance. And yeah, I’ve been humming Staying Alive all day. You just can’t help but love the Bee Gees!
Reviewer : Glenda Rome