Tony realizes that merely “Stayin’ Alive,” to quote one of the iconic Bee Gees songs, is not the point—and it surely is not enough for a meaningful existence. Pinning your hopes and dreams on a night of laughs and love once a weekend epitomizes “life goin’ nowhere,” to quote that song’s refrain, which pithily sums up the moral lesson of the story. Although no character in “Saturday Night Fever” does, or would, quote Socrates, I will for them: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Besides Stephanie, there’s another bridge that looms large, literally, in “Saturday Night Fever,” as it appears high above the stage: the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, a place that Tony aspires to live for its more desirable lifestyle. (Given the 1970s sensibility mirrored in “Saturday Night Fever” that posited Brooklyn as beneath both Manhattan and Staten Island, four decades later, ironically in our time it is Brooklyn that millennials, and others, consider without equal as the place to be.)
One of the stars of the Westchester Broadway Theatre production is the set design by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, who also designed the era-evocative costumes. The disco scenes are aglow in great lighting schemes by Andrew Gmoser, who always gets the most out of his theatrical effects.
The fluidly changing sets toggle between the outdoor bridge motif, the disco, a dance studio, and the home of Tony’s parents, which ascends into view intermittently on the stage’s trap lift, one of WBT’s best-used features in all of its shows.
The sound design by Jonathan Hatton and Mark Zuckerman adds appropriate ambience, with occasional street sounds filling the air.
All the familiar songs are here, though they are presented differently from what Bee Gees’ listeners are used to hearing, given the imperatives of musical theater structure and story-telling techniques. Some songs are not played out in full or in the same style as The Bee Gees’ recordings.
The energetic cast sings, dances and acts with professional precision. One standout deserving of special mention is Alexandra Matteo as Stephanie. When she sang “What Kind of Fool” at the performance I attended, I scribbled in my notepad, “American Idol” voice, if not better, and “brilliant pop vocalist.” She has the chops alright. As the jilted Annette, Gianna Yanelli also belts it out powerfully, on “If I Can’t Have You.”
Other songs include “Night Fever,” “Jive Talking,” “You Should Be Dancing,” and “How Deep Is Your Love.”