by Terry Skinner (Guest Blogger)
In 1978 when I saw “Saturday Night Fever” for the first time I was the same age as John Travolta’s Character, “Tony Manero”. I was never a “Tony” but I could certainly identify with some of his wannabe mates. In 1976 I had started Jazz dance classes with Jennifer Bowman, a former Bluebelle dancer, and with her dance troupe performed in a number of clubs and pubs around Brisbane. I remember my own father, a Wharfie, being rather perplexed at the sight of my mate, Richard, and I emerging from my bedroom covered in sweat having danced up storm. So in portraying Frank, Tony’s father, I have a few character threads to draw on.
Frank Manero is an unemployed construction worker in 1970’s Brooklyn New York. The oil price shock in the early 1970s had plunged the western world into recession and construction work was scarce. At that time, the New York construction industry was largely controlled by the Mafia. As an Italian American, Frank would most certainly have known the local “Wise Guys”. He has always considered himself the “Don” of his own household, and ruled his domain with an iron fist, but his authority begins to wane as his unemployment drags on. As a young man, Frank was a smooth mover in the Dance Halls himself and, like Tony, was very cocky as he courted Flo. He now wallows in “Beige” middle age and resents Tony’s youthful vitality. It is not that important to Frank that his family love him, but they do have to respect him.
Saturday Night Fever, beyond the fabulous dance scenes and dynamic, disco soundtrack is a story of a young man searching for his place in the world and a chance for success. Frank’s life is the antithesis of this as he faces failure and struggles to maintain a grip on HIS small place in the world. It has been fascinating exploring Frank’s embittered character. So from March 19th 2015, I look forward to introducing you to Frank and his dysfunctional family. See you then!
By Rebel Lyons (Guest Blogger)
Annette would have to be one of the most intriguing characters I've ever had the chance to create my own rendition of and I am loving every moment of the research I've been doing as part of my creative process. What I love most about her are her flaws and weaknesses, which make her so incredibly relatable to a lot of young women, myself included.
The general consensus is that Annette is "a sex crazed girl" which I disagree with - I think she is more accurately described as "a girl fallen crazily in love". She isn't a party girl who wants all the boys... She wants Tony, and only Tony. She doesn't even care if she falls pregnant to him, and her song pretty much sums it up: "if I can't have you, I don't want nobody baby". Tony says that on their first and only date all she talked about was her three married sisters, and to me that brings to mind a tragic image of Annette in three different bridesmaid dresses, catching the bouquet every time and dreaming of a world where she gets to cook Tony's dinners and rub his feet.
Annette obviously loves Tony for his good looks and his dancing skills (She couldn’t possibly love him for his personality and the way he treats her…) so I guess part of her love for him is lust, although at her age and considering he is her first serious crush she doesn’t know any better, she is blind to his many flaws and thinks she couldn’t possibly fall for anyone else, ever. She probably has a picture of him under her pillow, and as creepy as that sounds, young love is a powerful force, a temporary madness, and trust me, Annette’s character isn’t quite as far fetched as she seems.
Never in the musical do we get to see Annette during the day. I think she has as mundane a life as Tony’s, probably worse… Working at Dunkin’ Donuts all day long and coming home to a dysfunctional family reminiscent of Puberty Blues or Muriel’s Wedding. You're terrible Annette. I imagine she was in the year below Tony at school, where her infatuation began, and dropped out the year Tony graduated so that she would be entering the real world at the same time as him.
The unfortunate situation Annette finds herself in is quite confronting and uncomfortable, because it’s so obvious that telling Tony she would sleep with his friends is an empty threat to persuade him to sleep with her, probably prompted by advice from one of her older sisters. Her use of drugs while in such a vulnerable state is not a wise move, but that is absolutely no excuse for the way she is taken advantage of. While her ending is not as tragic as Bobby’s, I feel that these two characters struggle the hardest coming to terms with their lives, which is essentially what the story is all about. The dancing and the costumes and the seventies vibe all create a spectacular backdrop but the challenges each character faces are timelessly relevant and I look forward to sharing Annette’s journey with you.