FORT ATKINSON - With a vigorous song-dance number for openers, the “Stayin’ Alive” disco musical “Saturday Night Fever” explodes on the stage with its spectacular choreography, lively music and poignant story of young adults trying to find love and their place in the world.
Featuring the music of the Bee Gees, the film version of 1977 was converted into a stage musical in the late 1990s and has continued to serve up feelings of nostalgia along with the fascinating journey of characters groping for meaning and feelings of self-worth as they plot their own destinies.
The main character, Tony Manero, impressively rendered by Alex Drost in every way, is struggling to find himself. He is already a skilled dancer at the local club but is still looking for more, including some recognition from his father. His brother is in the priesthood and occupies a place of honor in their very Catholic home. However, Frank, too, is still trying to find his way.
Annette is obsessed with Tony, but he doesn’t share her enthusiasm. Instead he is oddly attracted to a woman he spies at the gym practicing ballet moves. She treats his interest with disdain, but after they spend some time together peeling off the layers of their facades, they discover there are possibilities for connection. The back-and-forth nature of their relationship kept our interest and was evidenced in their duet “100 Reasons.”
Another love interest in the story involves Bobby (Sammy Borla), a friend of Tony’s, and his tag-along girlfriend Pauline. Their fate does not turn out well at all on several levels. Borla was a good fit for the part.
All the aspiring women in the story, Annette (Kalie Kaimann), Pauline (Elizabeth McGuire) and the most successful contender, Stephanie (Veronica Fiaoni), fill their roles well. Kaimann delivers “If I Can’t Have You” with heart, and Fiaoni moves us with “What Kind of Fool.”
But the strongest vocalist in the female casting is Tonyia Myrie Rue in her role as the spunky Candy. When she sings, we’re enthralled. Her counterpart, Monty, played by Ryan Slone, also showed some vigor. Their numbers, “Night Fever,” “Open Sesame” and especially “More Than a Woman” were all well-delivered.
Beyond the glitz of the show and the energized dancing, we also get involved in Tony’s life. Dorst is skilled in bringing out his feelings of self-doubt, his pride, as well as his ability to take an honest look at himself. His decision in the final dance contest and its personal cost to him was very nicely conveyed. Besides being a consummate singer and dancer, Dorst can act. He’s a true pro.
A flavor of the Italian culture, the pride of Brooklynites as well as the snobbish attitude of those New Yorkers who live in Manhattan , along with a taste of Catholicism, all come through. Tony’s reference to the Brooklyn strut and his description of the cost of constructing the massive Brooklyn Bridge are all fascinating details along the way.
As he and Stephanie strut off together at the end, we smile. It’s a fun show in every way, thanks to the expertise of director Ed Flesch, choreographer Shanna VanDerwerker and musical director May Ehlinger, and the talented cast they garnered.
“Saturday Night Fever”
The musical runs through Feb. 23 at Fireside Dinner Theatre, 1131 Janesville Ave. , Fort Atkinson . Call 800-477-9505 or visit www.firesidetheatre.com.