Recalling the 1970s, when everyone would try anything to have a good time

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Before AIDS nearly decimated an entire generation of gay men, before just about anyone had heard of skin lichens, herpes, HPV, or shingles, there was a sexual revolution. Young people listened to rock music, dropped LSD, smoked pot, and Woodstock changed reality for many who weren’t there but felt the sea change in American culture. Disco arose as a new phenomenon. Mostly eschewed by the rockers, it took root in the urban centers, a place to work off the energy of youth through movement, and a new playground of hedonism to forget the grime and boredom of everyday life.


The 1977 film Saturday Night Fever celebrated the optimism of young men and women trapped in dead-end jobs and dead-end lives who sought release through ecstasy of movement which liberated them one night a week at the disco.


Forty years later, we have Saturday Night Fever: the Musical, based on the film which was based upon the story by Nik Cohn. It was adapted for the stage by Robert Stigwood and Bill Oakes. The North American version of Saturday Night Fever: the Musical, written by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti, will be at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia until July 16.


Saturday Night Fever: the Musical features the songs of the Bee Gees and other hits of the ‘70s: “Stayin’ Alive,” “Boogie Shoes,” “Jive Talkin’,” and “More Than a Woman,” among many others reinterpreted by singers onstage. The lions’ share of the music was sung by Ben Dibble and Crystal Joy.  The choreography and direction by Richard Stafford, and the lighting design by Jack Mehler brought the hyperactive, radioactive 1970s to life. The large cast of characters, led by Jacob Tischler as the indefatigable Tony Manero and Alexandra Matteo as Stephanie Mangano, displayed dancing and singing energy and miles and miles and miles of heart. They brought to vivid life the steamy places and seedy characters in this version of Brooklyn, New York. At one point, we even saw a male couple holding hands and walking off stage together. Lines of cocaine were seen to be sniffed up, too. At the end of the musical, there was a Mama Mia experience where everyone experienced an apotheosis:  all cast members were clad in dazzling costumes, dancing and singing in a fantasy number where everything was beautiful.


Put on your “boogie shoes” and head down to the Walnut Street Theatre for a loud, bright, busy, and colorful Saturday Night Fever: the Musical. For further information about Saturday Night Fever: the Musical, and to buy tickets, call 215-574-3550 or visit  



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