Put on your boogie shoes and best polyester duds and hustle on down to the Maine State Music Theater’s latest offering, “Saturday Night Fever.” This show is high energy all the way with awesome ensemble dance numbers and excellent performances. The musical is based on the iconic 1977 film that starred John Travolta with the Bee Gees soundtrack that would go on to pack the dance floors of discotheques around the world for several years.
If you’ve never seen the film, the main character is Tony Manero (Jacob Tischler), a 19-year-old Italian man living in Brooklyn. He works in a paint store by day, but at night he’s a star at the 2001 Odyssey disco club. No one dances like Tony Manero and it’s all he wants to do – dance and get across the bridge to Manhattan. He and his friends – Joey (Anthony J. Gasbarre III), Double J (Casey Shane), Gus (Nic Casaula) and Bobby C (Drew Carr) – are typical 19-year-olds. They hang out, chase women, party and dance.
One night at the Odyssey, DJ Monty (Michael Buchanan) announces the disco’s going to hold a dance competition open to all the boroughs. And, there’s a cash prize of $500 for the couple in first place. Tony’s childhood friend Annette (Mariah MacFarlane), who carries a huge torch for him despite the fact they only had one date, says they should be dance partners. After some convincing on Annette’s part, they become dance partners – until Tony lays eyes on Stephanie Mangano (Alexandra Matteo) at the Odyssey – and man, can she dance! Without telling Annette, Tony decides to ask Stephanie to be his dance partner, but she’s not interested in guys like Tony anymore; she works in Manhattan and is moving there. She’s getting out of Brooklyn. But after some convincing on Tony’s part, Stephanie agrees – but just dancing, nothing else. Love triangles ...
A minor plot involves Tony’s older brother Frank Jr. (Frankie Paparone) who announces he is leaving the priesthood. Turns out, Frank Jr. only became a priest to make their parents happy (mostly his mother). He doesn’t want to live the rest of his life without a wife, children … he turns to Tony for pointers as the parental units blame Tony for Frank Jr.’s decision.
Another major plot in the show revolves around the sensitive and fragile Bobby C. Bobby’s been trying to break up with his longtime girlfriend Pauline (Christina CarLucci) to chase after something better, not just women, but a life somewhere other than Bay Ridge. He just doesn’t know what or where that is yet. And when Pauline tells him she’s pregnant, he realizes his fate is sealed: He will have to marry Pauline (who he really does love), but does he really want to?
The song “Stuck” (which I’d never heard before) strikes a chord within every main character. The one thing that young people dread the most is being stuck in a life like their parents, of losing hope, of losing – or worse – never getting the chance to chase their dreams. This song, not written by the Bee Gees but by David Abbinanti, is sung by Tony, Stephanie, Pauline and Bobby C – and movingly.
“Well you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk” … and Jacob Tischler brings it as Tony. From the moment you see him in “Life Goin Nowhere” and “Stayin Alive,” to the dance with Stephanie in the competition “More Than A Woman,” he’s got the moves – and the heart – of Tony Manero. He can walk the walk and talk the talk!
Matteo is a gorgeous dancer. Period. As Stephanie she’s got the right amount of faccia tosta and vulnerability. Her solo song, “What Kind of Fool,” sung after Tony storms out of her new Manhattan apartment after meeting the guy who was helping Stephanie become more sophisticated, is a highlight of the show.
The most moving song of all is sung by Annette (MacFarlane) – “If I Can’t Have You” conveying all of the passion brought by this young woman’s first love. I thought she was just perfect as Annette.
And DJ Monty (Buchanan) and his lady love Candy (Courtney Daniels) will rock you off your shoes! These two on the upper level of the set sing, dance, flirt so well they ended up being my favorite characters! Check them out up there in the upper level of the set at the Odyssey … I guarantee they will be up to something. Monty sings “Disco Inferno” as the Odyssey regulars deliver one hot dance number. He also sings “You Should Be Dancing” … and another bigger than life dance tune. And, Daniels is one hell of a singer – you’ll know what I mean when you see the show. Candy and Monty’s duet of “Night Fever” is awesome. And her solo “Nights on Broadway” is perfection.
So get on down to MSMT’s Pickard Theater because this cast wants to put on their, their, their, their, their boogie shoes just to boogie with you!