Tag Archives: Alastair Hill

REVIEW: Saturday Night Fever – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

It’s astonishing to think that Saturday Night Fever is over 40 years old. Bee Gee’s manager and producer Robert Stigwood’s gritty, 1977 movie, based on British journalist Nik Cohn’s 1976 New York magazine article ‘Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night’ (later revealed to be pure fiction) has stayed in the public consciousness since then. It has even been declared “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry.

First appearing as a stage musical in the West End in 1998, it has undergone a myriad of incarnations since then, some less successful than others. This time it’s the turn of Bill Kenwright to tackle this seminal tale of the disco subculture.


Living at home with his parents and little sister, 19 year-old Bay Ridge boy Tony Manero (Robert Winsor), spends his days working in the local paint store and his nights escaping to the 2001 Odyssey disco. Eager to dig himself out of his dull life, he sets his sights on the $1000 prize in the local dance competition. Conflict arises with his friends and his potential dance partners: local girl Annette and the comparatively sophisticated Stephanie. Thrown into the plot are rape, abortion and suicide.

Unlike other productions, The Bee Gees (played by Ed Handoll, Alastair Hill & Matt Faull) appear onstage to provide musical accompaniment to the action, and do so phenomenally well, their vocals almost indistinguishable from the real thing. They are accompanied by a fine-sounding band, who are musically on-point throughout. Only a few of the characters in this ‘musical’ sing the songs that drive their character’s narrative: Tragedy by Bobby C (Raphael Pace) and If I Can’t Have You by the spurned Annette (Anna Campkin), and when they do it seems utterly incongruous. It feels as if it should be an ‘either/or’ choice, either a play with an accompanying soundtrack or a full blown musical. The soundtrack as it is delivered by the onstage band and vocalists is strong enough to eschew any need for the characters to burst into song.

The multi-level set is cleverly conceived and smoothly transitions from family home to paint store to local diner, to dance studio to the cacophony of colour at 2001 Odyssey, it is evocative and suitably evocative of the era. It beats the catastrophic 2014 actor/musician version that played out on an awful multicoloured cube strewn set, hands-down.


The cast work hard with the material they have, each is clearly giving their all. Richard Winsor as Tony has the most fully-formed character, with a beginning, development and end. Winsor’s acting is undoubtedly solid, as is his dancing. I can testify to Winsor’s dancing credentials, having seen him performing as part of Matthew Bourne’s company, and he is clearly a gifted ballet dancer, however, he looks uncomfortable with this loose disco style. He looks as if he is fighting between his classical training and the freedom of these moves. Less well rounded are those without fully developed and resolved stories: the spurned and sexually assaulted Annette and the tragic Bobby C, to name two, their story lines are introduced, then left to hang in the air with no satisfactory conclusion.

Bill Deamer’s choreography is lively, but as someone who has seen the original West End production, he has borrowed liberally from Arlene Phillips very memorable original choreography.

The writing is the production’s weakest link, with better material, this hard-working cast could have done so much more. Entertaining escapism, but there’s a lot of unfulfilled potential here.

Runs until Saturday 20 October 2018 at Glasgow King’s Theatre.

Images: Pamela Raith

REVIEW: Dreamboats and Miniskirts – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

It’s 1963, the dawn of an new musical era: the advent of The Beatles and the Mersey Sound, but whatever happened to Bobbie and Laura, Norman and Sue and Ray and Donna, those music loving teens from Dreamboats and Petticoats? Well, all that’s answered in the sequel Dreamboats and Miniskirts.

Bill Kenwright has found an audience pleasing formula in his Dreamboats series and instead of decreasing in quality this sequel is actually stronger than the original. Acclaimed writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran use the wit they showed in hit TV shows, Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart to great effect here, weaving an albeit flimsy but fun story around the greatest hits of the 60’s.

Bobby and Laura’s first single went to the top of the charts, Norman and Sue are living in marital bliss and Ray and Donna seem perfectly happy in their hairdressers and boutique, but all are still chasing their dreams: Norman wants to find his voice again, Ray wants to get out of the hair salon and be a band manager and Bobby and Laura are looking for that elusive follow up hit.

Moving into the next period of pop history really couldn’t fail to be anything but an absolute winner: who could possibly resist hearing “Twist and Shout”, “Do You Love Me?”, “House of the Rising Sun” and “Oh Pretty Woman” live? The murmurs of recognition as the first chords ring out on each tune and the amount of silent (and not-so-silent) mouthing of the words, speaks of the enduring popularity of this wonderful music.

The youthful exuberance of the cast and the sheer weight of talent on the stage goes a long way to ensuring the success of the piece. In a cast of infinite quality it seems churlish to single anyone out but Alastair Hill (Norman) and David Luke (Ray) particularly shine through as do Laura Darton (Sue) and Anna Campkin (Donna). The cast are called upon to act, sing, dance and play instruments – all of which are done with ease and quite considerable skill. The entire cast are utterly endearing and the joy from the actors on stage radiates out to the auditorium. They look as if they are having a ball – and to be quite frank the audience is too.

Fluff it may be but it’s hard not to love it, make sure you get along and see it – a great big ray of sunshine in a miserable summer.

5 *****

Runs until Saturday 15th August 2015 then touring.

Tickets available from: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/dreamboats-and-miniskirts/kings-theatre/