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Saturday Night Fever is taking Aberdeen audiences by storm this week.

By Kirsty Brown

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Following the storyline of the popular 1977 movie of the same name starring John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever is a story of self discovery disguised in high energy dance numbers.

The only thing that brings Tony Manero (Richard Winsor) real joy is dancing in the club on a Saturday night, and he wishes that he could get that high from other parts of his life.

When the nightclub he frequents announce that they are hosting a prestigious dancing competition, Tony knows that he needs to find the perfect partner if he’s going to take part - that’s when he meets fellow dancer Stephanie Mangano (Olivia Fines) who grudgingly agrees to be his partner in an attempt to win a share of the substantial cash prize.

Elsewhere Tony’s life is falling apart - rifts are growing in his family, his best friend Bobbie (Will Luckett) is being forced to marry a girl he accidentally got pregnant, he just can’t shake off an obsessed girl he took on a date once and his group of friends are increasingly targeted by rival gangs.

If there was ever any doubt that this story was being told from Tony’s perspective, it melts away when a pivotal moment for Bobbie in the second half lacks the impact it could punch - especially given the current campaigns surrounding male mental health - but the focus is instead placed on how Tony deals with the aftermath.

The casting of Winsor as Tony was a great call, as his dancing experience - which includes starring roles in Swan Lake amongst many others - really paid off in delivering the role.

While an actor could have been trained to deliver the choreography, Winsor was able to show off the natural head to toe presence of an exceptional dancer, even when he wasn’t dancing.

There were a few times in the first half where the energy and connection with the audience seemed to be lacking and it almost felt as though the cast were just ‘going through the motions’, but this seemed to largely iron itself out in the second half of the performance.

Stephanie and Tony
Stephanie and Tony

One person who seemed to be immune to this was Fines, who was convincing in her role as a girl just trying to make her in the big city.

A starring role on the stage which possibly eclipses even the performances of Winsor and Fines is that of The Bee Gees - Barry (Jake Byrom), Maurice (James Haughan) and Robin (Danny Knott).

The three take on the role of the iconic band to sing all of the musicals songs from a platform at the back of the stage, and easily received the most rapturous applause of the evening.

The fact that most of the songs are sang solely by this trio and not by the characters themselves makes this quite a unique musical production, but it certainly works and it allows the key cast members to deliver more energetic and immersive choreographies than they likely would be able to do if they had to maintain their breathing for powerful musical numbers.

It also helps to maintain the charm of the original songs as they are all performed to sound just like The Bee Gees’ recordings.

Regular big set changes were useful to the audience in setting the scene of where Tony was in that moment, however it did add a bit of a stop and start feel to the storyline.

Costuming and set design managed to make the story feel true to the era in which the story was originally set without making it feel at all dated, indeed it could almost be set in the 21st century.

The cast took their bows to a standing ovation, a sure sign that performances of the show taking place later in the week and into the weekend will be a party from start to finish.

Saturday Night Fever is in His Majesty’s Theatre until Saturday, October 12, and for more information and tickets you can visit the Aberdeen Performing Arts box office by popping into HMT, calling: 01224 641 122 or visiting: www.aberdeenperformingarts.com.

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