saturday night fever: the musical by Nan Knighton, Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb. See listings, this page, for details. Rating: NNN
after what happened in new York, it's hard not to cringe at a musical with songs like Stayin' Alive and Disco Inferno. But Saturday Night Fever, based on the John Travolta movie and set in 1976 in Brooklyn and Manhattan, isn't in bad taste. Nor is it as lame as some tone-deaf critics would have you believe.
Fact is, it has all the ingredients of a solid musical hit: a moving underdog story, catchy music and choreographed moves that are integral to the story and not a frill.
Like Mamma Mia!, the musical places well-known tunes -- in this case mostly Bee Gees disco anthems from the film's soundtrack -- in characters' mouths. The results are sometimes effective (a woman singing If I Can't Have You after being shunned by the stud), sometimes embarrassing (a lost guy singing Tragedy).
But for a touring show, the sets are impressive, complete with a cute Brooklyn Bridge, and the costumes and hairstyles scream 70s without much fuss.
In the key role of Tony Manero, Richard H. Blake gets every hair-slick and pelvic shake down, almost managing to make us forget Travolta.