Saturday Night Fever

JOHN LAWSON Norwich Theatre Royal


It felt appropriate somehow that, in the year we lost Maurice Gibb, one of the Bee Gees' later songs, Immortality, should have been added to the score of the greatest single accomplishment of their stella career.

For Saturday Night Fever has given Maurice – and his brothers – true immortality.

It was the defining movie of the disco generation, but the stage version, which arrived 20 years later – and has sold out its entire run on its first touring visit to Norwich – has become a story for everyman, thanks to the depth of the Bee Gees lyrics.

As the programme notes say: “The time is 1976 – or whenever you were 19.”

While the film is remembered for the music, the stage show is remembered for the passion of the words – revealed for the first time as a true mirror to the story of Tony Manero, who lives to dance amid the endless disappointment of life in downtown Brooklyn and its inter-racial tensions, and his social climbing partner Stephanie, who is trying to rise above it all.

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Stephane Anelli is a strutting Tony and Zoe Smith a real diva as Stephanie.

Individually, they were dynamite, but the chemistry between them never quite ignites until their confrontation over the employer who has “helped” her up the ladder.

There were similar flaws in the show's two real victims, Annette (Jane Horn) and Bobby C (Darren Carnell), whose pain never quite rings true in the heartbreaking way it should until the 11th hour.

But I suppose no one is expecting Shakespearean drama or even a latter-day West Side Story. Because for sheer entertainment, this show has it all: the great songs, the great music and dancing which is nothing short of sensational. Almost 30 people cram the stage and you just don't know where to look first to catch all the leaps, lifts, spins and acrobatics.

In the words of another disco hit: Oh, what a night!

Saturday Night Fever runs until Saturday October 18. Box office: 01603 630000.

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