Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Stage

Musical version of 1970s classic opens Saturday night at Show Palace

HUDSON — Think of iconic movie scenes — Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O'Hara up a broad staircase two steps at a time in Gone with the Wind, Rocky Balboa running up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Rocky, Bette Davis's Margo Channing standing on the staircase snarling, "Fasten you seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!" in All About Eve. A fourth likely would be John Travolta as 19-year-old Tony Manero, strutting along a Brooklyn sidewalk to the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive in Saturday Night Fever.

No wonder the movie was the all-time favorite of the late movie critic Gene Siskel. Even Pauline Kael raved about it. It's a good story with drop-dead wonderful music, and dancing, dancing, dancing. It earned Travolta an Oscar nomination and has made every Best Movie list compiled since its 1977 release.

It debuted as a stage show in 1998 in London and came to Broadway a year later, where it played for 501 performances. The Show Palace Dinner Theatre launches its version on Feb. 25 and continues to April 2.

Tackling the role of Tony is New York-based singer/actor/dancer Aaron Atkinson, who attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and played Ren McCormick in Footloose at a Pennsylvania theater. In Saturday Night Fever, he's a 19-year-old paint store clerk who lives for Saturday nights, when he dons his best shirt and shoes and wows the crowd at the local discotheque.

As the show starts, his "friend with benefits" and dance partner is sex-crazy Annette (Brittany Ambler, A Show Palace Christmas Spectacular). But once he spies the seemingly sophisticated Stephanie Mangano (Heather Baird, Anita in West Side Story), he's hooked and drops Annette.

Tony's life is complicated, though, by his adored older brother, Frank, Jr., the apple of their mother's eye, mainly because he has become a Catholic priest. When Frank drops out of the priesthood and comes home, their ultra-religious mom, Flo (Leanne Germann, Margaret in 9 to 5), takes it poorly, as does their unemployed father, Frank Sr. (Pete Clapsis, Maurice in Beauty and the Beast).

Then Tony's good friend Bobby C (Kevin Korczynski, Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) has personal problems, and his buddy Gus (Jake Rura, Bernardo in West Side Story) lies to him, two very accomplished dancers seem to be outshining him, and Tony's life is overwhelming him.

Through it all, though, he has dancing, all to pounding disco rhythms like Jive Talkin', Boogie Shoes, Disco Inferno and Stayin' Alive, as well as dreamy romantic tunes like More Than a Woman and How Deep Is Your Love.

The stage version has been changed to make it more family friendly, eliminating much of its darker side, including scenes about racial conflicts, drug use and the steamier sex scenes.

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