'Saturday Night Fever' rocks at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre

Michael Notardonato stars as Tony Menaro in “Saturday Night Fever” at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers.

Prime rib meets prime entertainment at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers.

“Saturday Night Fever” is the 195th production to bound across the stage and it does.

Featuring music of the BeeGees, a lead dancer (Michael Notardonato as Tony Manero) reminiscent of John Travolta back in the day and choreography and direction by Amy Marie McCleary, this production of “Saturday Night Fever” captivated the Friday night audience.

Appearing through the courtesy of Actors Equity (the union of professional actors), Notardonato was spot on as the Italian kid who was going to do it his way, unlike brother Frank Manero Jr. (Bennett Leeds), who made his parents proud when he became a priest. Tony’s way was as a would-be dancer and leader of his pack of young men who would be cool but not likely to be much else.

Frank Manero Sr. (David Discenza), his father, is quick to let Tony know it. At the Friday night show, Discenza was louder than he needed to be in showing his feelings. But a little bit of overacting by one character could not take away from this show, in which the dancing was so fabulous. McCleary’s choreography is always spot on but, in this show, every dancer was spot on. Synchronicity ruled.

So did the music. With songs like “Boogies Shoes,” “Jive Talkin’,”More Than a Woman,” “If I Can’t Have You,” “Nights on Broadway,” and “How Deep is Your Love,” among others, many in the audience seemed ready to sing and dance along with the entertainment on stage.

Tony wants to win a big dance contest. It is within the realm of possibility, as he seems to rule the local disco. He is convinced that with his share of the prize, his life will change for the better. When not at the disco, he has a mundane job at a paint store and, like his pals, a less than brilliant future. Sub stories such as his brother’s decision to leave the priesthood and a friend’s death bring a more human side to a show that still thrives because of its music and dancing.

In the case of Notardonato, by the end of the show, it was almost as though John Travolta was once again a young dancer, with moves for which he was famous all that many years ago in the films “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease.” Notardonato is not as tall as Travolta (6 feet 2 inches) but he certainly fills the stage just as well with both his dancing and his singing.

Of course there has to be a love story in any good musical. That develops when Tony spies Stephanie (Collier Cobb) at the disco. She also is upwardly mobile in her own way, which, at one point, threatens to destroy the dance partnership but of course, true love wills out in a good musical. This is certainly one of those.

Fridays and Saturdays, in addition to this excellent show, Broadway Palm patrons can choose from the buffet or table service of specialties like prime rib. There always is an extensive buffet, huge variety of desserts, including ice cream and hot fudge reminiscent of old-fashioned soda fountains.

The set was by Evan Adamson, lighting by Russell Thompson, music direction by Loren Strickland, costumes by John White, sound by Chris McCleary, technical direction by Dominic Lau and stage management by Jayar Garcia and Jaime Saenz.

“Saturday Night Fever” continues through Feb. 9. “Guys and Dolls” follows, Feb. 14-March 30.

The dinner buffet opens at 5:30 p.m. for most evening performance which follow at 7:30 p.m. Evening tickets begin at $65, including dinner. Show only tickets are $45. Matinees are offered on select days with lunch buffet open at 11:30 a.m. and performance at 1 p.m.

Opening next in the Off-Broadway Palm is “Mid-Life 2,” the sequel to “Mid-Life the Crisis Musical.”

For more information or to order tickets, call the box office at 239-278-4422 or visit: BroadwayPalm.com

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