Saturday Night Fever
Nan Knighton's adaptation for the stage of the Bee Gees music in collaboration with Arlene Phillips, Paul Nicholas and Robert Stigwood
Apollo Victoria Theatre
Was it truly almost thirty years ago?
Such is the freshness and the urgency of Arlene Phillips' revival of Saturday Night Fever at the Victoria Apollo that it is hard to believe it was 1977 when the Brothers Gibb launched the show that became the highest-selling soundtrack ever!
So enduring, however, is the imagery of the original, in sound and scene, that imitation is a precarious enterprise. New talent thrives on music of its own age - but where are today's Bee Gees, who is the new Travolta and how can we possibly recapture that old Fever?
Many in the crowded Apollo's legions of over 35s are doing just that. But whether with their feet, or only their memories, is for them to judge. For this is a strange creature - a stage musical of the film of the music!
Thanks to the inspiration of Arlene Phillips' choreography, this new 21st century Fever throbs with life and movement. Singing, however, is clearly not high on the list of priorities. Either that or the ubiquitous stage mics are high on volume but low on quality.
It has long been a matter of regret for me that mics, so necessary if lithe young entertainers with pleasing but soft voices are to be heard against electronic instruments, do nothing for vocal timbre. They do nothing much for words either - in only two of the numbers do they reach me in the stalls' fifth row with any clarity.
As for dialogue, this is rattled off regardless of content with the aim of speediest arrival at the next production number. If this really is what the audience want, then why not cut the chatter and give them more of the music and dance?
The David Shields settings with massive lighting by Gavan Swift and no less massive sound by Mick Potter, provide all the essential ingredients for high Fever. The new kids on this block move it along with verve and much athleticism.
All the more sad there is no magic macho at the heart of things. Stephane Anelli is a likeable rather than exciting Tony Manero. Which leaves Kym March's Annette with not too much to get upset when Zoe Ebsworth's Stephanie seems to be moving in! Small wonder Tony doesn't win the gig trophy.
Yet while there is clearly a large following for this revival who will relish every syncopated moment, I wonder just what it is saying to those kids who never experienced the original "Fever"?
Steve Orme reviewed the 2003 touring production in Nottingham
Reviewer: Kevin Catchpole