Saturday Night Fever hits Perth

Ethan Churchill stars in Saturday Night Fever at Planet Royale in May

Drew Anthony was a child of the 70s with parents who took him and his siblings to the cinema to watch all the classics of the time including Saturday Night Fever. So it seems a natural progression for him to bring the stage version of the highly popular movie to Perth next month with a big local cast.

“As a child growing up in Queensland, I would see all those amazing films with my parents at the weekend including Saturday
Night Fever
. I was a big fan of the movie musical that’s for sure,” Drew tells Have a Go News.

Drew has been involved in show business for almost 40 years, as a performer, director, choreographer and producer with an impressive career which has taken him around the world. Among his long list of achievements is associate artistic director for the closing ceremony at the Sydney Olympic Games and directing the Sony IFA event in Berlin. He won the Fred Astaire international jazz and tap championship in New York in 1984, going on to perform in a big list of musicals including the United States and UK tours of Hot Shoe Shuffle.

With this year set to be a busy one for Drew and his team with Saturday Night Fever the first of three musicals to hit the stage at Planet Royale in Northbridge, Drew says it feels like the right time to present the show again.

“The first show we did at Planet Royale a couple of years ago was Grease. From the moment I decided to do Grease, I always had it in the back of my mind that it would also be great to do Saturday Night Fever which starred John Travolta and was really his breakout film before Grease came along.

“The world knew John as Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back Kotter on television but they didn’t accept or know him as a film star until Fever put him on the map as a film star. As a child of the 70s I saw many of those amazing films when they were released. I had parents (his mother Kay ran a performing arts school) who would wake me in the middle of the night to watch the midnight runs of old Fred Astaire movies.

“Movie musicals were a big deal in my family so when the more contemporary movie musicals started being made such as Grease, Saturday Night Fever and Xanadu, it was a joy to go and see them at the cinema.”

Drew says the Perth show, currently in rehearsal, has a cast of 24 which is a big undertaking in such an intimate theatre. 

“For those people who haven’t been to Planet Royale, the theatre is in the old Imax Theatre. We find that people love the proximity to the stage; it’s a very comfortable theatre because it’s an old cinema.”

With a smash hit score featuring the greatest hits of the Bee Gees including Jive Talkin’ and Stayin’ Alive, the production stars Ethan Churchill as Tony Manero, the role made famous by John Travolta, along with Perth rising star Tory Kendrick as Stephanie Mangano and West End star Lucy Williamson as Flo Manero. 

“Thirteen-year-old Aaleyah Chater makes her debut in the important role of Tony’s kid sister Linda, a great opportunity for a rising young star,” says Drew. 

“We create the rehearsal schedule around her so there is no need for her to miss any schooling.

Saturday Night Fever is a time capsule. It gives audiences a real glimpse into what it was like living in the outer suburbs of New York City. It is actually quite a dark story in some ways, dealing with very real issues within the context of the theatre production.

“I think when most people think about Fever they immediately think of the nightclub scenes with John Travolta dancing on the lit-up dance floor but they forget that there is very real and gritty story attached.

“The Bee Gees is a beautiful connection for Australians to have – an Australian iconic group with this incredible soundtrack. I thing that, along with Grease, it is the number one movie musical soundtrack of all time.

“The Bee Gees career was a little bit stale just before Saturday Night Fever and then their involvement and the amazing set of songs they wrote for the film catapulted them into a different stratosphere of stardom.

“What is really interesting is that the original director of Saturday Night Fever didn’t like or want the songs in the film. But Australian producer Robert Stigwood, rather than listening to the director and ditching the Bee Gees songs, ditched the director instead and replaced him with somebody who embraced the music.”

Drew says Saturday Night Fever will be followed by another musical, The Wedding Singer, with the third show at Planet Royale yet to be decided.

“I’ve had a very fortunate career over many years. Show biz has been my only vocation and I’ve had to reinvent myself many times as a performer, director, producer and choreographer. I have worked on everything from musicals to festivals and major ceremonies.

“I feel like I am this chameleon who just reinvents himself as you have to do, so I have been very fortunate.”

Saturday Night Fever, produced and directed by Drew Anthony and choreographed by Jamie and Suzie Rolton, plays at Planet Royale from Wednesday, May 8. Tickets on sale at and 

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Josephine Allison started her career in journalism at 18 as a cadet on the Geraldton Guardian newspaper. She realised her ambition to work on a daily newspaper when she later joined The West Australian where she spent almost 34 years covering everything from police courts to parliament, general news, the arts and real estate. After moving on from The West, she worked on several government short-term media contracts and part-time at a newspaper in Midland before joining Have a Go News in 2012. These days she enjoys writing about interesting people from various fields, often unsung heroes who have helped make WA a better place.