Friday, September 18, 2015

Saturday Night Fever

Based on the Paramount/RSO Film and the story by Nik Cohn

Adapted for the stage by:  Richard Stigwood in collaboration with Bill Oakes

Adapted for the North American stage by: Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti

Featuring songs by The Bee Gees

Venue:  Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada CO

Running Time:  2 hours 40 minutes (includes 20 minute intermission) 

Date of Performance:  Tuesday, September 15, 2015.  Regional Premiere

Let’s start with the bottom line.  It was opening night.  It was a packed house.  There was a standing ovation at the end.  To say that the audience had a good time is an understatement of the first order.  For those who just like to get to the point, Saturday Night Fever is a triumph on every level.  Set your expectations to “high,” and then watch them be exceeded.  It’s that good.

Of course, one of your expectations would be great music.  Saturday Night Fever has abundant classic disco music sung by gifted singers.  It’s practically a Bee Gees greatest hits concert.  You’ll get Stayin’ Alive, Nights on Broadway, Tragedy, Jive Talkin’, Night Fever, More Than a Woman and several others.  If that isn’t enough, who can resist Boogie Shoes or Disco Inferno?  

Music Director David Nehls has a rocking band in the pit, recreating the sound just as it was back in the days of vinyl and AM radio.  Costume Designer Mondo Guerra uses a vivid color palette to dress the cast in authentic disco duds, sometimes to comic effect.  Megan O’Connor’s wig and makeup design is a throwback to the Farrah Fawcett look (long fluffy locks), with a few tightly permed afros thrown in for both genders.  Between Guerra and O’Connor, it’s like the Arvada Center stage is stepping back in time 40 years.

But, you may ask, what else do we get here besides the best of The Bee Gees?  Here’s the short list:
  • talented triple threat actors who know how to sing, dance, and tell a story.  
  • dazzling costumes straight out of the 1970’s.  
  • choreography that can leave you breathless, even if you’re  just watching the dancers rehearse in their onstage studio.  
  • one of the most detailed, flexible, and eye catching sets ever to grace the Arvada Center stage.
Let’s start with Brian Mallgrave’s set.  Mallgrave has an obsession with detail, and his Saturday Night Fever creation is full of those tiny details.  

You want a hardware store?  Mallgrave gives you one, complete with shelves full of gallon paint cans.  

You want the Brooklyn Bridge on your stage?  Call Brian

Dance studio?  Check.  

Cafe?  Check.  

Bedroom, kitchen, disco?  Check, check, and double awesome DISCO check.  

Of course, it’s the disco set that serves as the focal point of Saturday Night Fever, and it’s also Mallgrave’s masterpiece.  It is one of those rare set pieces that generates spontaneous applause when first revealed.  That’s right.  The set got applause.  If you’re a set designer, that might be something that belongs on your resume.  It’s very rare.

When you put the cast on Mallgrave’s high energy “2001 Odyssey Disco” set, the stage becomes a feast for your eyes, your ears, and your sense of wonder.  It’s like a three ring circus; there’s more going on than you can possibly take in.  The mirror balls, the lasers, the flashing colored lights, the thumping beat of the music, and the dancers combine to transform the Arvada Center stage into a dazzling disco inferno.

This is a sizable cast, and each and every one has a deep résumé.  Most are too young to remember the 70’s, much less disco.  That said, however, if you lived through that decade, these guys and gals will transport you back in time and remind you of what we loved about the 70’s.  
Ian Campayno (Tony Manero)
Ian Campayno has the lead role (the one that made John Travolta a household name) as Tony Manero.  His Tony is every bit as bold, as brash, as Italian as Travolta’s.  Campayno goes Travolta one better, adding a brilliant singing voice that Travolta never had.  Campayno is just as tough, just as rough, and just as good at disco as Travolta.  It’s a tough act to follow, but Campayno will make you forget Travolta.

McKayla Marso (as Stephanie Mangano, Tony’s love interest), is both smoking hot and icy cold simultaneously.  She’s effortlessly sexy, and intentionally distant.  She keeps Tony at arm’s length, finding him interesting and perhaps intelligent.  Marso’s cold side is particularly striking, as she puts Tony’s charm on hold.  Marso’s strong suit (not that she has an weak “suit”) is her dancing.  When she and Campayno move together, it’s like watching Dancing With The Stars.  You cannot take your eyes away; they make magic as a couple on the dance floor.
Ian Campayno (Tony) and McKayla Marso (Stephanie).

Emma Martin (Annette) is Tony’s regular dance partner, but she wants much more from him.  Annette has the dance moves, but can’t quite get the “I want to be your lover” message through to Tony.  Martin is convincingly despondent about Tony’s emotional distance.  She and Campayno make a marvelous couple; but to Tony she will always be just a dance partner.    

Director Rod Lansberry has a significant challenge with Saturday Night Fever:  how do you deal with the contrast between the high energy dance scenes and the slower but necessary story scenes?  Lansberry does what he must do:  he keeps as quick a pace for the story as he does for the music.  He never lets go of the audience between songs.  Set pieces are changed in seconds.  Actors enter and exit seamlessly.  The most dramatic scene in the show, on the bridge in the second act, puts you on the edge of your seat.  Lansberry, who has had the audience clapping and lip synching the music moments ago, brings an audible gasp from the audience in that scene.  High energy and high drama coexist brilliantly in Saturday Night Fever.

It’s a big and talented cast and the entire performance is flawless.  There is no weak point in Saturday Night Fever.  I will repeat what I stated at the outset.  It’s a triumph.  It’s a dazzling, eye popping, hand clapping, sing along triumph.  


Yes.  I got a photo here. Sorry.  

For those who would like a disco selfie, The Arvada Center has provided a mock up dance floor and Tony mannequin.  Don't forget to tweet and Facebook your photos. 

There is ample free parking at the theater.  

There are adult themes and adult language, in Saturday Night Fever.  Discretion is advised for young children. 

This show closes on September 27, 2015.

PHOTO CREDITS:  The Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities



Close by (5-10 minute drive to/from the theater) and a Colorado classic, we stopped at Beaujo’s Pizza at 7523 W. 53rd in Arvada.  Beaujo’s has a variety of crusts, from thin to the ginormous Mountain Pie thick crust, in honey white, honey wheat, and gluten free crusts.  If, for some reason, you’ve never tried Beaujo’s, it’s time.  


Artistic Producer/Director:  Rod A. Lansberry

Music Director:  David Nehls

Sound and Video Design: Nicholas Pope

Lighting Design: Shannon McKinney

Scenic Design:  Brian Mallgrave

Costume Design:  Mondo Guerra

Stage Manager:  Lisa Cook

Assistant Stage Manager:  Paul Behrhorst

Casting by:  Wojcik/Seay Casting, LLC


Tony Manero:  Ian Campayno*

Stephanie Mangano:  McKayla Marso*

Annette:  Emma Martin*

Bobby C:  Dan Reardon*

Joey:  Damon Guerrasio*

Double J:  Andrew Russell*

Gus:  Andrew Keeler

Monty:  Steven Burge

Frank Manero:  Thomas Borrillo*

Flo Manero:  Sharon Kay White*

Frank, Jr.:  Adam Estes*

Linda Manero:  Hannah Katz/Eden Weatherall

Pauline:  Heather Marie Davis*

Fusco/Chester Brinson:  Michael Bouchard*

Jay Langhart/Salesman/Joseph Cursa:  RJ Wagner*

Shirley Charles:  Seles VanHuss

Cesar Rodriguez:  Andrés Acosta*

Maria Huertes:  Rae Leigh Case

Connie/Girl/Elizabeth Cursa:  Jenna Moll Reyes

Doreen:  Shannan Steele*

Candy:  Sarah Rex*

Ensemble: Dylan Hauck, Roddy Kennedy*

* indicates members of Actor’s Equity Association.


Music Director/Conductor/Keyboards:  David Nehls

Assistant Music Director:  Keith Ewer

Guitar:  David DeMichelis

Woodwinds:  Harry Grainger

Trombone:  Wade Sander

Trumpet:  Bradley Goode

Bass:  Jon Cullison


  1. Terrible! Worst musical we have ever seen. Actually left at intermission because it was so bad. Other then the costumes being great; the singing, acting, dialogue are all awful. Was truly painful to sit through.

  2. Opposing views are always welcome.

    Guess we just saw different shows.