Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
You don't go to Saturday Night Fever: The Musical for the plotyou go for the big dance numbers. Fortunately, director/choreographer Todd L. Underwood delivers big time in this area: the numbers at the disco, with the cast decked out in perfect late 1970s outfits, splendidly designed by Lisa Bebey, are all dynamite and give a shot of adrenaline to the production. If Saturday Night Fever is not considered one of the best musicals ever written, the Ivoryton Playhouse staging makes a strong case for it as a slick and entertaining evening of fun.
One of the biggest assets of the production is Michael Notardonato as the leading character of Tony. He manages to banish John Travolta from one's mind and is an excellent singer and an even better dancer. Indeed, when Notardonato comes out in the trademark white disco suit to sing "How Deep Is Your Love" near the end of the show, he is pretty close to ideal.
Two actresses also make a strong impressions. As Tony's dance partner Stephanie, Caroline Lellouche looks and sounds good and she matches Notardonato perfectly in the exciting disco numbers. She is also terrific in her second act solo, "What Kind of Fool." In the sympathetic role of Annette, Nora Fox gives a fine performance and one truly feels for her, especially when she delivers her bittersweet anthem "If I Can't Have You," which is one of the best moments in the show.
The rest of the cast are likewise topnotch, with good work by Tom DiFeo, Colin Lee, Joey Lucherini, and Pierre Marais as Tony's pals. Jamal Shuriah is wonderful as Monty, the deejay at the disco, and he and the sizzling Ashley Jeudy as Candy perform electric renditions of such Bee Gees hits as "Night Fever," "More than a Woman," and "You Should Be Dancing." The book scenes outside the disco aren't nearly as potent, but the acting by the entire company is strong enough to keep interest between the songs.
Perhaps the biggest hero of the show is Todd L. Underwood, who ignites the stage with a series of dazzling dance numbers that look wonderful on the expansive, multi-level nightclub set expertly designed by Martin Scott Marchitto. The lighting design by Marcus Abbott is sensational, and sound designer Tate R. Burmeister likewise does a super job. Indeed, the atmosphere of the late 1970s New York disco scene feels totally authentic and the show, complete with mirror balls, looks absolutely great.
Credit must also go to musical director Michael Morris, who does wonderful work with his musicians (located under the stage), making the show sound like a disco palace. This production, on the whole, manages to accentuate the strongest elements of the musical, with Michael Notardonato the crowning jewel leading the show. So, grab your boogie shoes and get to Ivoryton Playhouse for a nostalgic good time.
Saturday Night Fever: The Musical continues at Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT through September 3, 2017. For tickets, please visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org or call the box office at 860-767-7218.