Saturday Night Fever at the Liverpool Empire Review

11-15 September 2018

Reviewed by Kimberley Bickerdike

Based on the 1977 Hollywood classic film starring John Travolta, I was really looking forward to a night of great music and dancing aplenty in an excellent theatre and I was not disappointed.

The production of Saturday Night Fever directed by Bill Kenwright tells the story of Tony Manero (played by Richard Winsor), a young man who works as a paint store clerk in his Brooklyn, N.Y., neighbourhood, a job which he dislikes. Tony has an extraordinary ability to dance and has only one ambition in life – to become the disco king. Tony still lives at home and spends his Saturday nights hanging out and dancing with his friends down at the local disco, 2001 Odyssey. When a big dance competition is announced, Tony searches for a partner and begins to train for the competition with Stephanie (played by Kate Parr) who also dreams of a world beyond Brooklyn. The theatre production has kept the originality of the film and there is swearing throughout and for that reason I would recommend this show for over 16s only. There are highs and lows for Tony throughout the show including mesmerising dance numbers to more sombre scenes including the death of Tony’s friend Bobby.

Richard Winsor is fantastic in his role as Tony. He is best known for his role as Caleb Knight in the long-running BBC television medical drama series Casualty and is also a trained dancer who has performed around the world in numerous Matthew Bourne dance productions including Swan Lake, Car Man and collaborated with the production of Play Without Words which opened to excellent reviews at the National Theatre and was later to be given two prestigious Olivier Awards.

The whole performance is based around Richards character Tony and he features in nearly every scene. He had big shoes to fill playing the iconic role which John Travolta made famous however he owns the role and performs with ease. His high energy, upbeat dance moves are performed with perfection, he never misses a beat and has an air of suavity throughout the whole performance. I can’t imagine anyone else could perform this role better. He even mastered the Travolta strut and the way he brought this character to life is one of the highlights of the show for me.

Another highlight was the music. The film wasn’t a musical yet featured a legendary soundtrack which was written and performed by the Bee Gees and I was intrigued to see how this element of the film translated onto the stage. I was surprised and delighted when 3 characters who resembled the Gibb brothers, clad in white flared suits appeared behind microphones at the top of the stage and began belting out a myriad of classic songs including Stayin Alive, Night Fever, Jive Talkin’ and Boogie Shoes. They completely transformed the performance into an engaging and interactive musical which encouraged the audience (some of who had come along in 70s inspired costume) to sing, clap and dance along to the classic hits

I would recommend that everyone goes to watch this show, with the numerous and seamless set changes to the large ensemble cast who perform non-stop dazzling choreography, the fantastic 70s costumes including Tony Manero’s iconic, white, three-piece suit which received one of the largest cheers of the night this is one of those shows which offers a fun, uplifting and nostalgic experience and is a show I could watch time and time again. It is also suitable for all age ranges.

The finale of the show is an all-inclusive dance routine, performed to the title track Saturday Night Fever on the iconic illuminated dance floor whilst disco balls filled the theatre with multi coloured lights. The audience were on their feet dancing along and the whole cast performed the hypnotic moves brilliantly! It was a fantastic ending to a fantastic show and the standing ovation was entirely deserved

Liverpool Empire Theatre is a theatre located on the corner of Lime Street and London Road in Liverpool. The theatre is the second to be built on the site and was opened in 1925. It has the largest two-tier auditorium in Britain and can seat 2,348 people. It is a traditional and quite large theatre yet offers the audience an intimate experience and is also located conveniently next to Liverpool Lime Street train station and has great transport links. The staff are always smiling and helpful and contribute to the night being a thoroughly enjoyable one.

A must see!

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £13 to £59.90 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).

Saturday Night Fever is at the Liverpool Empire from 11-15 September 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/liverpool or call the box office on 0844 8713017.

Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017

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