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All in all though, 'Saturday Night Fever' is a fun and energetic musical, with great songs - even if its plot is showing its age and sexist tendencies.

Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Saturday Night Fever, the Musical’



Saturday Night Fever tells the story of 19 year old Italian-American Tony Manero, who works in the day at a paint shop and spends his nights dancing away at the 2001 Odyssey discotheque.  At home, Manero has a dad, mum, and little sister as well as a brother who’s away as an ordained priest and is the apple of his mother’s eye. With his life going nowhere, Manero is asked to partner up with Annette for a dance competition. However, his attention turns to another more glamorous dancer – Stephanie, and he decides to partner with her instead. Hence everything comes to a head on the day of the competition with not only Manero and his two women, but also with his friends and their life choices.

This musical has such recognisable songs as “Night Fever”, “Staying Alive”, and “Boogie Shoes” that still resonate almost 40 years later. Add energetic and choreographed dance movements by the ensemble, and superb singing, and the musical’s strength comes across easily – it’s a very exciting and fun show.

Having said that though, as with musicals that closely follow the narrative of yesteryear movies which inspired them, most of these plots and dialogue lose their appeal in 2015. Just like with the musical adaptations Dirty Dancing and Beauty & the Beast, Saturday Night Fever‘s plot seems very outdated and the dialogue doesn’t excite as much as it once did.

Also, part of the narrative includes Manero trying to rape Stephanie out of frustration, and his friends raping a drunk Annette. You’d never find a hero (or even anti-hero) in today’s media raping or trying to rape or having friends who rape ~ without consequences. The movie Saturday Night Fever might’ve been made at a time of misogyny and hence rape was used so casually and trivially as a plot point, but we’re in a different age now where such portraits of rape culture is seen as outrageous, disgustingly misogynistic and in poor taste – especially for a protagonist to partake.

All in all though, Saturday Night Fever is a fun and energetic musical, with great songs – even if its plot is showing its age and sexist tendencies.

Saturday Night Fever, the Musical which is based on the well known 1977 movie of the same name that starred John Travolta, ran at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre from 25th September to 4th October 2015.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.

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