Disco fever hits Queenstown

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Showbiz Queenstown is looking for wannabe John Travoltas.

The musical society is searching for males to play the white-suited Travolta and his disco-dancing mates next May for its 40th anniversary production, Saturday Night Fever, featuring the Bee Gees’ greatest hits.

It will be the first time the musical, based on the smash-hit 1977 movie of the same name, has been performed by an amateur society in New Zealand.

Showbiz is starting its search seven months out because typically men are reluctant to give musical theatre a go, vice-president Steve Wilde says.

The society needs at least eight males in their late teens or early 20s. “There’s never any shortage of females lining up to audition in our shows but the men are far more reserved – and they shouldn’t be.”

Men who think musical theatre is sissy have got it wrong, he says: “It’s tough, it’s disciplined, it’s a team effort – it’s not for weaklings.”

He believes the town’s large Latin population could be hiding Showbiz’s next star: “Those South Americans know how to dance, they know how to move.”

Local dance school owner Anna Stuart, who’s choreographing Saturday Night Fever, will run what she’s calling a disco boxing camp.

“If you can move your hips and you love disco music, that’s enough for us, and we can just take you from there.

Stuart won the ‘best choreography’ gong at the Otago Southland Theatre Awards for her only other Showbiz production, Chicago, in 2012.

She says she’s had plenty of experience getting men to dance on stage – for the past four years she’s choreographed the local men’s ballet troupe for the community Christmas concert.

“The whole thought of having to learn routines might be a bit of a freak-out for guys but I do have really good ways of teaching that.”

Stuart says the style will be disco moves, “but with my hip-hop background it will be quite funked-up”.

Stuart teams up with veteran Christchurch director Bryan Aitken and musical director Emma Wilson.

“They presided over our most successful stage show ever, Chicago, in 2012, and we want to duplicate that success in our 40th year,” Wilde says.

“I think the music will really appeal to our audiences – who doesn’t like the disco beat?”