Premiere SNF New York
Stayin’ Alive: Hollywood’s disco hit boogies to Broadway (by Richard Zoglin)
In its quest for Broadway respect, “Saturday Night Fever” has done almost everything wrong. It’s a big, splashy musical trying to replicate a hit movie, a pretty crass way to make a buck. Its director, Arlene Phillips, is better known for staging extravaganzas in Las Vegas.
From the 1st. Nov issue 1999 of Time Magazine about the reviews on SNF in NY.
The show is loud and pushy and panders to the crowd shamelessly.
Worse, it overcame critical hoots to become a smash in London, a feat it now has the audacity to think it can repeat in New York City.
But here’s the knotty question: Is it possible to recognize a show’s base commercial motives and still have a good time? In this case, yes. “Fever” has faithfully reproduced the 1977 John Travolta movie about a working-class Brooklyn kid with big dreams and hot dance moves, with the familiar Bee Gees music (including two new songs written by the Gibb brothers) integrated into the story. One of the pleasant surprises is how well these numbers sound in the theater; “How Deep Is Your Love” becomes a richly layered love duet; “What Kind of Fool” is a passionate expression of loss; and “Night Fever” is, well, a blast.
he staging is crisp and energetic, with well-drilled ensemble work and a nifty reproduction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
James Carpinello, as Tony, doesn’t have a voice to swoon over, but he’s got the moves, while Orfeh (just the one name, thank you) is husky-voiced stunner as Annette, the good girl who wants to be bad.
There’s some grit along with the glitz-a guy commits suicide, a girl is gang-banged in the backseat of a car, and the hero’s big victory is spoiled by the fact that he doesn’t deserve it.
But mostly this is a cheery pop-rocket that lights up the stage the way disco lit up the 70’s. And disco never got much respect either.