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!