The iconic disco film Saturday Night Fever’s is now a musical. And it’s coming to Manila.
The stage version features, of course, the music of The Bee Gees.
Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group (ATEG) is bringing the musical on Philippine and Asian stages.
Saturday Night Fever’s 2015 Asian Tour, its first in eight years comes on the heels of the show’s current UK Tour. It will to kick off at The Theatre, Solaire Resort and Casino (ASEANA Avenue, Paranaque City, Manila), on July 3 until the 26th and performances in Kuala Lumpur (Sept. 1 to 15), and Singapore (Sept. 25 to Oct.11) will follow suit.
In close coordination with the Robert Stigwood Organization, whose founder produced the film and its various stage incarnations from 1998 to present, ATEG’s Resident Director Bobby Garcia reveals, “We’re using a brand new script [originally written by Nan Knighton, in collaboration with Arlene Phillips, Paul Nicholas, and Robert Stigwood] that brings back a lot of the grittiness and the coming of age in a tough world aspect of the movie. It’s edgy and exciting. It’s a completely re-conceptualized production.”
On board this production, Garcia discloses that ATEG, which has broadcast moguls Bobby Barreiro and Tony Tuviera as partners, has assembled a formidable, first-rate creative team—representing some of the finest talents in West End, Broadway, and Asian Theater. Its powerhouse creative team include Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo, choreographer Vince Pesce, lighting designer Paul Miller, costume designer Eric Pineda, musical director Ceejay Javier), and Garcia himself, who will direct the production, whose 20-strong cast were chosen through casting director Tara Rubin from separate auditions first held in Manila and later in New York City.
“We have a first-rate creative team and have assembled an amazing cast. I think the quality of the show will speak for itself once it’s up on its feet,” says Garcia.
“ATEG has been chosen for the high standard it has achieved with some of the best Broadway shows,” says Patrick Bywalski, deputy chairman of The Robert Stigwood Organization. “The first-class creative team ATEG has assembled for this never-before-seen, revamped production of SNF in Asia will surely deliver a thrilling experience. So bring the white suit out and your boogie shoes.”
Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment and its casting agency based in New York, Tara Rubin Casting announced that Brandon Rubendall, original cast member of U2’s Bono and The Edge’s Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark” on Broadway and recurring principal dancer for pop superstars Madonna, Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez, will step into the dancing shoes of the ‘70s disco icon Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever.
Playing opposite Rubendall is Jenna Rubaii, Green Day’s American Idiot (U.S. and International Tour) alum, who will breathe life into the role of Stephanie Mangano, a young office worker-turned-dance partner of Brooklyn’s local discotheque habitué Tony.
The two were in Manila, Thursday, and met with members of the press.
“Coincidentally, on the same week I was auditioning for the role of Tony, ‘the film, was playing on TV,” recalled Rubendall. “After I watched it, I couldn’t believe I had never seen the movie until then and how much I related to the role of [the emotionally immature] Tony [played by John Travolta].
“I felt like I was basically watching myself in the movie. Because of how much I’ve connected to the role, I was so calm and confident in the auditions, which is probably why I ended up getting it…and the fact that I love disco music!”
Rubendall added, “That role was written for me! I have to play that role.”
Ecstatic on bagging the role of Stephanie, Rubaii, who is no stranger to disco-themed musicals having been part of Broadway Legend Tommy Tune’s new musical Fifty Four Forever –inspired by the infamous New York night club Studio 54—feels perfectly good in the arms of her new leading man, Rubendall, whom she shared a rarely luxurious amount of time studying scenes from the musical during the auditions’ final callback in New York.
“Our director, Bobby Garcia, spent a generous amount of time working with us on the material during the audition process, which you don’t get often. That also made me feel so comfortable in the room with my scene partner, Brandon,” Rubaii said. “We had such a good time together. It was so fun reading the scenes. We were so willing to play the characters of Tony and Stephanie!”
She added, “Our director has been very focused on finding the truth in these characters and in the story, which is really beautiful.
“So many times you get musicals like this that are so famous for their music or film adaptations, and it just becomes a ‘fluffy,’ ‘fun’ piece. Of course, this musical will be plenty of fun, but there’s also a beautiful journey that these characters take–it’s a snapshot of young lives during this specific generation. I think it’s important to honor that.”