'Saturday Night Fever' becomes a London musical

Talk about stayin’ alive. Tony Manero came back last month, when actor Adam Garcia strutted onto a London stage and sang, ”Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk.” That’s right, kids. Saturday Night Fever, the musical, has arrived.

The stage Fever, which opened at the London Palladium on May 5, looks an awful lot like the 1977 John Badham movie that launched a million white suits and made John Travolta a movie star. Produced by Robert Stigwood (who produced the movie) along with Paul Nicholas and David Ian, the stage version features disco music from the movie plus two new Bee Gees songs written for the show.

There is one major difference: While the film featured music, the stage version (directed by Arlene Phillips, book by The Scarlet Pimpernel‘s Nan Knighton) has Tony Manero breaking into song along with his rough-and-tumble buddies, but without the Gibbs’ falsettos. Garcia sings ”Stayin’ Alive” with his finger in the air, croons ”More Than a Woman,” and belts ”Tragedy” (the 1979 Bee Gees hit thrown in for good measure) during the jumping-off-the-bridge scene.

”It’s a brand new beast,” says Nicholas. Still, ”What you see is the film, except you get a greater dance element. [In the film] all of the dancing is in the club. We’re able to introduce it at other points.”

While the Australian Garcia, 24, has garnered good notices for the Herculean task of filling Travolta’s shoes (he even has a British top 20 hit with ”Night Fever”), the show itself has received lukewarm to bad reviews. Nevertheless, Fever is expected to eventually arrive in its native land. And could the musical version of Fever‘s garish sequel, Staying Alive, be next? Nicholas says rather ominously, ”You never know.”

Saturday Night Fever
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