Danny Bayne seems to be making a bit of a speciality of leading the cast in mid-1970s musicals. More specifically, mid-1970s musicals, which starred John Travolta.
Danny made his West End debut as Danny Zuko in the musical Grease at London’s Piccadilly Theatre after winning ITV’s Grease is the Word.
Now he’s stepping into that other great Travolta role, on tour as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (Theatre Royal Brighton, March 3–7).
This new staging is packed with hits from the Bee Gees including the classics ‘Stayin’ Alive’, ‘Night Fever’, ‘Jive Talking’, ‘How Deep is Your Love?’ and ‘You Should Be Dancing’.
“It’s a lovely show to be part of,” Danny says. “The script is very true to the film which is grittier and has got quite a lot of bad language. You have got to have all the dance and the glam and the glitter, but it has got to have edge to succeed.”
The date is 1976 and in New York, Tony Manero, a young man from a tough Brooklyn neighbourhood with a dead-end job and an extraordinary ability to dance, has only one ambition in life – to become the disco king.
Every Saturday night, Tony dons his flares and hits the dance floor, creating a stir as he wows the crowds with his phenomenal moves and routines. When he meets Stephanie, who also dreams of a world beyond Brooklyn, and they decide to train together for a dance competition, their lives begin to change forever.
But always there’s that grit, Danny promises: “The boys are Italian-Americans growing up in Brooklyn in an awful area that is heavily racist, and the streets are divided between the different peoples. You don’t cross the streets.
“Saturday Night Fever hasn’t been done on stage for something like ten years. It’s just nice to have it brought back. Nearly everyone in the show says that if there is one show they would like to do, it’s Saturday Night Fever. It has got a terrific story. It has got an anti-hero. There is a lot of dance, and there is some amazing music. The guy that has done all the musical arrangements for the show has beefed it up, and the sound is amazing. All the instruments are played by the actors on stage. It is terrific.”
Danny counts himself a huge Bee Gees fan: “I thought the Bee Gees were amazing. They fused funk. I am a massive James Brown fan. I love old-fashioned funk and soul. It took the Bee Gees a long while to find it. I saw a video of them when they were younger, and it didn’t sound like them at all. But when they found their sound, they really got going with it.”
As for the character of Tony: “With his family, he is the bottom of the ladder, on the bottom rung. He loves his mum, but his dad is a bit of a drunk. He loves his sister, but never really sees her. He loves his brother, but never really sees him.
“He works in a paint shop and has got no money. If he could, he would go to the disco every night. His big thing is just to save whatever money he can so he can go the disco on a Saturday night and just forget about all the rest of his life.
“And then he meets this girl at a club and immediately falls head over heels in love with her. There is the banter that ensues between the two of them, and they go on a little adventure together...”