‘Saturday Night Fever’ at the Media Theatre: A music-packed, much more cheerful version of the ’70s classic

With good-looking, good-dancing, good-singing leader Jesse Corbin and also Melissa Rapelje, an energetic cast, tremendous stage design, and that punishment Gees music, the Media Theatre transforms the dead-ender despair the the john Travolta flick right into something happy however genuine.

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Melissa Rapelje and also Jesse Corbin in "Saturday Night Fever, The Musical," v June 9 at the Media Theatre.Read moreCourtesy of the Media Theatre

Jesse Cline has actually been artistic director of the Media Theatre for 25 years. Directing an ext than 50 musicals, he has won Broadway World and Barrymore Awards. Because that his brand-new show, Saturday Night Fever, The musical (through June 9), Cline cherry-picks indigenous the history of Saturday Night heat musicals to steer the ’70s dystopian standard into a cheerier, family-friendly direction.

It helps that he casts Broadway’s Jesse Corbin (great hair) in the star role of Tony Manero. Corbin does no emulate john Travolta’s above solo run number (good happy trying to execute that). But in a virile, Gene Kelly way, Corbin’s power is in maintaining with Cline’s an ext hopeful vision of that Tony should be.

Melissa Rapelje, another beautiful person who can sing and also dance, theatre love attention Stephanie. She speak comical Brooklynese and also dreams of do it big with the Manhattan artsy crowd. Rapelje deftly understates she character’s mix of fear and pride, for this reason you believe in Stephanie’s final appearance into the sunlight.

But it is the collection design of Matthew müller that fully draws you in. Through its ironworks spanning center stage, the symbolic Verrazzano-Narrows leg is choose a barrier wall surface to a glamorous life. In mesmerizing 3D fashion, a rear wall video clip changes scene — the bridge, the disco run floor, the Brooklyn earlier alleys. An ext cinematic than cinema, these effects have impact: the is rare to feel sense of ar so deeply.

The bee Gees are ubiquitous in this musical reincarnation by music director Ben Kapilow, and thanks to choreographer Christian Ryan, the ar is jumping. Stars and ensemble performers pound the end lower-class fury in “Dog Eat Dog” and also “Stayin’ Alive.” ago at the 2001 Odyssey club, liquid (high-energy Tamara Della Anderson) force-feeds redemptive disco gaiety to the struggling young with “Nights on Broadway” and “Disco Inferno.”

Class conflict and love problem are progressed through song. Cohost Monty (aptly smarmy JP Dunphy) helps candy launch “Night Fever” and “You should Be Dancing.” Star-crossed lover Bobby (Ronnie Keller) and also Pauline (Kelsey Hodgkiss) arguement in “Jive Talkin’.” once in distress, characters sing soliloquies, as with Annette’s “If ns Can’t have You” (lovely, plaintive Anna Ferrigno).

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By itself, the music helps eviscerate the dead-ender despair the the initial Saturday Night Fever. Yet there is more. When the young still live hardscrabble lives, there is a genuine “happy ending,” and everyone has actually less require for fraudulent consolations. And in the movie classic, Travolta’s electrifying solo is like a medicine hit, a solitary, ecstatic act that lives and dies through its 3 minutes ~ above the run floor. However this Tony walk not need such one exultant moment since he is simply a less desperate person.