Making every night a Saturday night! An evening at Leeds Grand Theatre filled with humour, glamour, heartache and tragedy.
I paid another visit to Leeds Grand Theatre to see Saturday Night Fever – directed by Bill Kenwright. The iconic film is known for its flares, platforms and obviously – its dance moves. I’ve only ever seen the film once or twice, (a long time ago), so I had at least a vague recollection of what to expect.
Richard Winsor and the rest of the cast had me laughing, gasping, singing and dancing in no time at all. The juxtaposition of the Bee Gees upbeat tunes with the depth and darkness of the storyline had me going through quite a range of emotion.
The theatre was filled with nostalgic, middle aged men and women, who were definitely there for the music, the dancing and the glamour! At 24, I was probably the youngest person in the room – but that just added to the overall atmosphere. I was surrounded by jigging shoulders, bobbing heads and tapping feet, all of which continued to increase in energy until the finale medley – when every single person was up on their feet!
Inspired by the 70’s, the costumes were absolutely breathtaking. From the famous white suit in the final dance, to the chorus’ frocks and flared trousers – it was like taking a step back in time. Not only did the costumes take us back to Brooklyn ’72, but also the set, props and lighting had the audience up on their feet, boogieing to Night Fever and Stayin’ Alive. The Bee Gees podium above the main stage added to the immersive experience of Saturday Night Fever. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – the disco ball drops into the audience and the lights spin around. I honestly feel as though I was in the middle of the dance floor! Adding to this was the use of mirrors on the main stage – which reflect the colourful, panelled floors inherent in every dance floor in the 70s.
If, like me, you can’t quite remember the plotline or even if you’ve never seen the film – here’s a little preview to jog your memory. We’re introduced to Tony Manero, a young man who loves to dance. He works for $4 an hour (after the pay rise!) and begins to feel extremely underwhelmed with his set-up after meeting Stephanie Mangano (Yes, their surnames begin with the same letter). He raises to the opportunity to enter a dance competition and breaks a couple of hearts along the way. But things take a turn when the plot reveals drugs, rape and suicide. We’re introduced to the harsh realities of life in the 70s; a dead-end job, an unsupportive, alcoholic dad, racial tensions in the community and the reluctance to talk about issues of mental health. However, there was also just the right amount of cheesiness to the show. Some parts had your toes curling (very slightly!) but they were so necessary to be true to the original.
Each cast member’s superb talent was showcased throughout the whole performance, from the high-kicks and the harmonies to the formations and character development. With the show being set in downtown Brooklyn, the accents were always going to be tricky to perfect. Sometimes, the butts of the jokes were lost as a result of the inaccuracy of the accents and intonation – but they gave it a great shot!
The iconic choreography stole the show, as every member of the audience was whooping at the pointed fingers, high-kicks and splits. Olivia Fines’ voice was exceptional in her solo performance of What Kind of Fool. I had goosebumps from start to finish! The whole performance was a pleasure to watch and made a great evening at the theatre. So, if you’re looking for a step back in time to the disco-days then I recommend you buy your tickets for Saturday Night Fever! now as it’s only at The Grand until Saturday 31 August.
All photographs by Pamela Raith Photography.
Paige is an MA graduate working in hospitality marketing. She’s a coffee enthusiast, avid foodie and theatre-goer. You’ll probably find her on Instagram @_PaigeEliza