What started back in 1976 as a New York Magazine article by rock writer Nik Cohn titled “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” has proved to be one of the most enduring and influential stories ever told about the power of music and the importance of the dance floor. Playing Saturday Night Fever’s working-class hero Tony Manero in the 1977 film made John Travolta a star, and playing the classic Bee Gees hits from the soundtrack — songs such as “Staying Alive,” “Night Fever,” and “Jive Talkin’” — can still make people at a party get up and get down. On Tuesday and Wednesday, January 17 and 18, the Granada Theatre (1214 State St.) will feel the Saturday Night Fever, Broadway musical style, when Theater League’s nationally touring production arrives for two nights of performances, both of which will end in an audience-friendly disco dance party.
When I spoke with Matt Alfano, the dynamic young dancer/singer playing Tony, he emphasized the way choreographer Marc Kimelman has updated the classic disco moves while keeping the excitement of the original film intact. “It’s a fresh take that reflects on where we are now,” said Alfano, adding that “you can see the evolution of dance” through the different numbers. Although he is far too young to remember seeing the original film when it came out, the actor has enjoyed researching his leading role, saying, “I’m from an Italian family, so I had a good start on the accent, but what got me really excited was learning about the 1970s New York vibe, which was raw and wild. There’s a documentary about New York in 1977 called The Coolest Year in Hell, and I really liked that.”
A dance contest in Act II features lots of partnering and lifts for the ensemble, and at the end of each performance, a mega-mix comes on that breaks down the fourth wall and pulls the audience into the action.
For tickets and information, see granadasb.org or call (805) 899-2222