Matt Byrne Media. Arts Theatre. 6 Jul 2017
Matt Byrne never does anything by halves. This show has a very long run. It moves from The Arts to the Shedley at Elizabeth where it will run until the end of the month. This is good.
Perchance this South Australian premiere of Robert Stigwood and the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever opened a bit prematurely.
On opening night there was a sense that it was not quite ready. Harmonies were adrift. It was as if one had stepped into late rehearsals.
The show is there. The talent is there. As always, Byrne can assemble some splendid performers.
To play Tony Manero, the dancing spunk made famous by John Travolta, he has cast Sebastian Cooper, a very handsome and engaging performer. He certainly holds the eye whenever he is onstage. Cooper has the classic Travolta dance moves down pat and he can touch at the heartstrings with his acting skills. His voice is good, but along with others in the cast, he seemed on opening night to be pretty much left to his own musical devices which meant for one crucial song that he set out in the wrong key.
The choral work also was loose and not up to the usual Matt Byrne five-star standard.
Byrne, on the other hand, steals from the show in his character roles, especially as the DJ in his boofy blond Afro wig. He is strident both in voice and costume.
Amber Platten is vocally strong as Stephanie although the dancing still needs work and there is lovely support from the rest of the cast, especially Matthew Pugsley, Brad Butvila, Iman Saleh, Lauren Noble and the boys. It is a large cast and everyone shows commitment and a sense of enjoyment in the process.
One of the top scenes in the show is the superbly-choreographed fight with Heimata Triponel as Juan, and his Latino Barracuda gang.
It’s a great musical with famous Bee Gees songs and some snazzy dance numbers. There are some very good dancers in the ensemble, too. And the dance is a strong plus in the production. So are the sets. The use of photo backgrounds with foreground additions is outstandingly effective and professional. Sound quality also is good and the orchestra generally sounds good, albeit there are some issues with pace. But, once the show is snappier and the singing wrinkles have been ironed out, it promises a cheery night of good songs, disco dances and bad wigs.
When: 5 to 15 Jul – Arts Theatre
When: 20 to 29 Jul – Shedley Theatre