Review: ‘Saturday Night Fever’ at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts

There’s no doubt in my mind that all of the attendees at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts were there because of the 1977 film version of Saturday Night Fever:

and because we yearn for those Disco Days when times were less mean and dancing Disco was such a blast. And they were there because they were Bee Gees fans and wanted to sing along with their iconic Saturday Night Fever score. In 2000 the show opened on Broadway and ran for 501 performances. With a Stage Adaptation by Robert Stigwood, in collaboration with Bill Oaks, and a North American Version by Sean Cercone and Davis Abbinanti, who wrote this new ‘talky’ book, the Riverside production, directed and choreographed by Patti D’beck, has a lot of great singing, a great band, and those beloved Bee Gees songs.

The cast of Saturday Night Fever. Photo courtesy of Riverside Center for the Performing Arts.

Michael Notardonato is a bundle of energy as Tony Manero, the man who comes alive on the disco floor, and he has ‘the moves.’ Kathy Halenda adds some humor and emotion to her performance as the Manero matriarch. My favorite performance was “100 Reasons” sung with beautiful harmonies by Notardonato and Melissa Rapelje (Stephanie Mangano), and “Lights on Broadway,” sung by the dynamite belter KadeJah Oné.

D’Beck’s choreography was pulsating, while Joe Thompson’s lighting used many colors of the rainbow. Adam Koch’s set used sliding pieces, while Angela Carstensen’s costume desisgns looked like many of the outfits from the 1977 film. Sound Deigner kept the sound disco-ish: lively and loud.

The real stars, for me, were Musical Director/Conductor/Keyboardist Garrett Jones and his fine musicians: Greg Paladino (Keyboards);Michael Huffmann (Trumpet);Paul Rawlins (Trombone);Nick Walker (Guitar);Claude Arthur and Joanna Smith (Bass); and David Long and Timothy Wilson (Drums). This band jives and rocks!

If you love the movie and yearn for 1977, take a trip to Riverside Performing Arts Center and catch that “Night Fever.”

Running Time: Two hours plus an intermission.

Saturday Night Fever plays through May 7, 2017, at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts – 95 Riverside Parkway, in Fredericksburg, VA. For reservations, call he box office at (540) 370-4300.

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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.


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