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Saturday Night Fever - Review

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by Georgina Tselekidis (subscribe)
Freelancer and aspiring journalist from Adelaide. Visual Arts graduate & current journalism student. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art & food. I also write for The Adelaidian //
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Forget the 2000s, let's go back to the 70s
When you think of classic films that are adored by fans worldwide, it can be difficult to fully translate it into a theatre performance. But Matt Byrne Media's Saturday Night Fever is a fine example of how it can be done, and very well at that.

I remember when I was just a kid, and my parents would listen to 70s tracks by the Bee Gees with their friends, and I'd just sit there thinking how boring it all sounded. Funnily enough as an adult, it's quite the contrary. I couldn't stop singing along to the lyrics on the night, thinking back at how cool it would've been to belong to such a vivid and exciting period.

If you've seen the film that supposedly revolutionised the 70s, you'll know it's full of popping sounds, colours, style, costume and hair. Everything is brighter - which you'd expect for an era full of free love. The 1977 American musical drama stars the legendary John Travolta as Tony Manera - a young working-class man who isn't really sure if he's really good at anything, except for dancing. He spends his weekends with his friends drinking and grooving at a local Brooklyn disco, where he meets Stephanie Mangano (his soon to be dance partner, and potential love). Tony is the king of the d-floor, and dances as a way to escape the realities of his life - his boring and low-paying job and his unsupportive and strict parents. The film became a huge success, popularising disco music, but also connecting to young adults of the same age during that time, and long after. The characters of Saturday Night Fever are basically like a 70s version of our Gen Y and Z kids, giving credence to the films' statement by the Library of Congress in 2010 as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The stage musical first premiered at the London Palladium on 5 May, 1998, and closed on 26 February, 2000, decided by South Australian born Robert Stigwood (who managed the Bee Gees and Eric Clapton). Ryan McBride recreated and rearranged the musical, which enjoyed much of its success in the 2000s, finally returning to Stigwood's home city for another season by Matt Byrne Media.

Sebastian Cooper as Tony Manero definitely impressed a majority of the female audience members with his suave and sleek characteristics that instantly captured the mannerisms of a young Italian guy from Brooklyn. It wasn't only the way he was dressed, with his perfectly styled hair, but his body language and energy that was distinctively consistent and an obvious reason why he kept stealing the hearts of his viewers til the very end of his performance. His identifiable accent, smooth vocals and the way he moved on stage encapsulated Tony's character, while also adding a personal edge with his own charismatic qualities.

Sebastian previously performed in the Red Cliffs Players production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and has also landed leading and supporting roles in amateur productions around Australia. Saturday Night Fever is his first Matt Byrne show, and I don't doubt that he'll be back again soon, in another lead role I'm sure.

Likewise, Amber Platten as Stephanie Mangano showcased her extensive career in dance, spanning 18 years, even taking her all the way to Disneyland in California and Malaysia. Stephanie stood out as soon as she took her place on stage at the club "2001", while also sharing a striking chemistry with Sebastian, which made their moments together even more enjoyable to watch. Amber's Brooklyn-style accent, assertive attitude that she pulled off well and a complete and uninterrupted connection to her character definitely made her the right choice as Stephanie. Her singing solo in her apartment building, alongside Tony, was a highlight of the production that really shined the light on her flawless vocals and ability to seize audience attention.

The supporting characters to watch out for are Anthony Butler as Joey, Iman Saleh as Bobby C, Jonathan Dragt as Double J, Lauren Noble as Annette and Niki Martin as Flo Manero. The backup dancers were more than just background fillers as well. They seriously got the audience going with their dynamic energy, backup vocals and killer moves to some of the 70s greatest hits, especially during their scenes at the 'disco'. We were brought into a 70s realm, with smoke machines, loud music and exhilarating Musical Direction by Paul Sinkinson, bright flashy lights, fake cigarettes, dazzling stage setup and design, Choreography by Sarah Williams, and of course, funky costumes that even inspired audience members to attend in retro gear. I don't think I've ever seen such an eager crowd during a theatre show before, making Matt Byrne's production an evident success that had me keen to return for a second time.

If you're sick of the modern age and are looking to escape to the cool and retro 70s for even just a short while, Matt Byrne Media's Saturday Night Fever has you covered.

Saturday Night Fever is playing at the Arts Theatre, Adelaide until July 11 and the Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth July 20-29.
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*Georgina Tselekidis was invited as a guest
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Why? You'll be dancing by the end of this groovy two hour extravaganza
When: ARTS THEATRE: July 6-8 and 11-15 at 8pm,July 20 ($25 Preview) July 21-22 and 27-29 at 8pm July 22 and 29 at 2pm July 8 and 15 at 2pm, July 11 ($25 Night). SHEDLEY THEATRE: July 20 ($25 Preview), July 21-22 and 27-29 at 8pm, July 22 and 29 at 2pm
Phone: 08 8262 4906.
Where: The Arts Theatre and the Shedley Theatre
Cost: Adults $40, Concession $35, Groups 10 $38/$33
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