After a few months of touring in the Netherlands earlier this year, the popular stage version of the film which launched John Travolta's career arrives at Milan's Teatro Nazionale. Apart from recreating the iconic white suit for the disco floor, Cocky van Huijkelom has designed the costumes from scratch with flares, platform shoes and patterned shirts which screech “70s”. The look wouldn't be complete with the hairstyles, so 60 wigs have been created by Sjoerd Didden for the Italian production. They have gone for an exaggerated look which mirrors how we remember the period rather than how it was: it's a musical, not a documentary. The result is fun, flashy and exciting.
Using the adaptation created in 1998 for London, the show skirts around the darker sides of the film, with its violence and drug use, leaving a joyful family-friendly show.
After auditioning over 2,000 Maneros they found their man in Gabrio Gentilini, a 24-year-old who is a year younger than Travolta when he created the role in 1977. He has already worked with producers Stage Entertainment in Mamma Mia! two seasons ago. 22-year-old Marina Maniglio plays Stephanie.
An imposing set by Carla Janssen Hofelt's uses a series of towers which move around the stage to form Brooklyn Bridge, the Manero house, and the disco itself. Large video projections on the back cyc allow the space to open out onto the East River and across Manhattan.
The Bee Gee's songs are still stayin' alive, 35 after they were written. This, though, will be the first time the show goes into production after the death last May of Robin Gibb who was the twin of Maurice and younger brother of Barry. Their soundtrack album from the film was awarded 15 Platinum discs having sold over 15 million copies and stayed months in the number one slot in th UK and America. It still epitomizes the disco phenomenon that was an international sensation. The soundtrack included the disco smooch How Deep is your Love, which is the last number in the show before the final mega-mix disco celebration to send everyone strutting home.
SNF – or in Italian LFDSS! – opens on 18 October and runs until 27 January.
Photos from the Dutch production, 2012
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.