On a stage that is part Popworld, part West Side Story, Richard Winsor gave a dazzling performance as Tony Manero, white suit and all, 40 years after the release of John Travolta’s stardom in the film Saturday Night Fever.
Under all the bright lights, the dancing was controlled and contained, even through some of the big numbers and spontaneity of moves at Club 2001, aligning well with the general restriction and desperation in trying to break down barriers both internally and socially. There was a dominant theme of quite crucifying desperation in attempts by characters to chase the things that would hurt them, whether that be wrong lovers, neglectful friendships, wrongly misunderstanding people, and double-standard familial expectations. The two most emblematic moments on stage of this included Annette, Tony’s dance partner that he treats as disposable, chasing for adoration from him, of which he never gives her, and the suicide of Tony’s friend, who Tony never seriously attended to as a friend prior to his death.
The timeless and incredibly cheery disco tunes of the Bees Gees were sure to lubricate this however, and overall the performance was far sunnier than sad. Even when Annette sang her heart out to ‘If I Can’t Have You’, induced in most, probably, a burning desire to sing and dance along. ‘You Should Be Dancing’ awakened Tony to realise that he should quit his “dead-end job” and seek his passion, dancing, and gladly by the end he had a deeper understanding of how friendships work with women; all along we knew he was a well-intending, heroic, but once internally struggling guy. And we see Kate, Tony’s new dance partner, empowered in her breath-taking duo with Tony to ‘More Than a Woman’, in a dance contest that they won, working nicely alongside her witty lines and passion for dance. The two characters worked seamlessly together, their on-stage rehearsals clearly paid off.
Photo Credit: Pamela Raith