Pinoy-dominated ‘Saturday Night Fever’ revives '70s in Kuala Lumpur
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – It was a night of bell bottoms, sparkly outfits, big hair, and dancing shoes. A night of great music that transcends time and generations.
The closing show of Saturday Night Fever: The Musical in Kuala Lumpur was a well attended event – not just by people who spent their own Saturday nights in a disco during its heyday, but people in their early 20s as well.
The predominantly Filipino cast brought '70s disco back to life on stage not just with their impressive vocals but with their dance moves as well.
Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J Eduardo Malaya, who was among the audience, admitted enjoying every bit of the musical. “It brings a back a lot of memories,” he said, smiling.
“I am thoroughly impressed with the Filipino cast – they did so well. It’s like actually being back in the '70s. Their talent is truly world-class,” he added.
Seasoned American theater actors Brandon Rubendall and Jenna Rubaii, who play the lead roles of Tony Manero and Stephanie Mangano, say working with Filipinos – both actors, musicians, and production crew – is one of their favorite things about the whole show.
“They just have so much passion. They put their heart and soul in everything that they do and we admire them so much for that,” Stephanie added.
“I really love the Philippines,” Brandon quipped. “Every time I meet a Filipino, I tell them, ‘You’re my people!’ I just love them. They [Filipinos] embrace us like we are family and we’ve been all over the world and you don’t get that anywhere else.”
Notable Filipino theater actors such as Mikkie Bradshaw (Annette), Jamie Wilson (Monty/Frank Manero), and Carla Guevara-Laforteza (Club Singer/Flo Manero) together with the ensemble, grooved to Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, Tragedy and the rest of the hits of the Bee Gees – songs that defined "disco" but survived other music trends.
Saturday Night Fever is based on a movie of the same title which catapulted John Travolta to fame. Back then, the movie was hailed as a well-made film that defined a generation and tackled social issues among young adults.
Tony Manero, the main character, lives in Brooklyn and works at a dead-end job. While his future seems pretty bleak, he escapes all his worries every Saturday by stepping into a discotheque where he is known as ‘the King of the dance floor."
A series of life-changing events happen when he decided to join a dance contest in 2001 Odyssey and persuades the graceful Stephanie Mangano to be his partner.
Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, a production by Filipino company Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group (ATEG), is directed by Bobby Garcia who has also worked on the Filipino production of Carrie, the Broadway Asia tour of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and Hairspray, to name a few.
Garcia is also a 3-time winner of the Aliw Awards.
The set design of the show is straightforward – it tickles the memory of anybody who has been to Brooklyn. The costumes, designed by Gawad BUHAY nominee Eric Pineda, are as vibrant and colourful as the era they represent.
After successful runs in Manila and Kuala Lumpur, the show is set to make its way to Singapore. Opening on the 25th of September, the cast will bring '70s disco to the Marina Bay Sands.
With all the impressive talents on stage, it was no surprise that the crowd in Kuala Lumpur ended on their feet, dancing along towards the end of the show.
If you plan to catch any of their future shows in Singapore, do remember to wear your dancing shoes and to practice that John Travolta pose. It would be quite hard to resist doing it during the encore. – Rappler.com