Creative staff reveal challenges of mounting Saturday Night Fever the musical

by Ruel J. Mendoza
Jul 2, 2015
Professional dance choreographer Vince Pesce (left) and scenic designer David Gallo (right) reveal challenges of mounting Saturday Night Fever. To get a sneak peek of Saturday Night Fever, CLICK HERE. For ticket inquiries, call Ticketworld at Tel. No. 891-9999 or visit

Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo and professional choreographer Vince Pesce are two of the most important people in the upcoming musical, Saturday Night Fever.

Based on the iconic 1977 movie starring John Travolta, this production will be staged at The Theatre of Solaire Resorts and Casino starting July 3, 2015.

The two have collaborated to bring back the gritty streets and the musical vibe of the ‘70s in Brooklyn, New York onstage for everyone to reminisce and return to that remarkable era of disco.

SNF makes use of the greatest hits of The Bee Gees including "Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever," "You Should Be Dancing" and "How Deep is your Love."

Set in 1970s New York, Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Italian-American Tony Manero (played by Brandon Rubendall) and his gang in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn who are stuck in dead-end jobs but rule the dance floor at a local discotheque.

(Watch video: SNEAK PEEK: Saturday Night Fever in Manila!)

Both David and Vince are now presently living in Brooklyn which makes it all the more special for both working on this iconic musical.

David Gallo used to live in Manhattan, New York but has recently moved to Brooklyn. The change of address has brought him closer to the essence of what Saturday Night Fever was all about.

“I was able to see the neighbourhood where the movie [that starred John Travolta] was shot in the ‘70s which is Bay Ridge.

“Nothing has really changed at all. It was still the same for the past three decades. But you can see a few high rise buildings yet the surroundings are still ’70s New York.

“That’s what is great about New York. There are iconic structures that are left to be appreciated by different generations.

“It helped me in recreating it onstage. So many details are important most especially the transition from the gritty and seedy neighborhood where Tony comes from to the glitz and glamour of the discotheque 2001 Odyssey disco where he lets loose.

“Recreating the environment of ‘70s Brooklyn was a challenge. The very thing that people will look for is the Verrazano Bridge, the iconic bridge that connects Brooklyn to Staten Island. Also the elevated subway track called the RR where Tony frequently rides.

“It may be impossible but they will see both of that onstage. Yes, people will see a train crossing the stage,” he laughs.

Most of the story’s highlights happened inside the disco and David made sure that everyone watching will be thrown back to that disco era.

“No stone will be left unturned in the musical. We recreated the interior of 2001 Odyssey disco, the lights, the dancefloor, everything. Everybody will be amazed with what we have recreated.”

David Gallo has travelled to many cities worldwide working on different sets. He has worked on 30 Broadway plays and musicals and has won a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design in 2006 for The Drowsy Chaperone.

He also won a Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Set Design.

David was also known for his long time collaboration with playwright August Wilson, Gallo designed the Broadway premieres of all his later works, including Jitney, King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf, and the revival of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf earned the designer two additional Tony Award nominations.

He was honored to design the Kennedy Center's tribute production of August Wilson’s Twentieth Century.

Presently, David is working on the set and visual design for the long-running children’s show, Sesame Street.

BRING BACK CHOREOGRAPHY OF THE 70s. Professional dancer/choreographer Vince Pesce grew up in Brooklyn and lived three blocks away where the film, Saturday Night Fever was shot.

Vince was only 10 years old when the disco bug bit him and dancing soon became his passion.

“Dancing has been my form of self-expression. Everyone dances and everyone has a passion for it.

“For me, dancing has been a part of my life and teaching dance to young people has been a joy for me.

“I used to perform and act during my younger years on Broadway. But I has enough of performing and it’s now time for me to teach and impart what I’ve learned.

“For the past 25 years, I’ve been teaching dance professionally in different theatre groups in the U.S.”

Accepting the musical Saturday Night Fever was big challenge for Vince since he will be combining the disco steps of the ‘70s with the much newer dance steps of today.

“Actually, it really hasn’t changed. The steps from 30 years ago is still here and just updated. But of course minus the bell-bottom pants, the glittery jackets and the elevator boots. But they are somehow making a comeback as well.

“Choreography for SNF is somehow big because you will have like 20 to 30 people dancing onstage all at the same time. And in every nook and corner of the stage, people will see someone dance differently.

“The solo dance of Tony is the most crucial because that’s the scene where he’ll be showing everybody that he’s the king of the disco.

“The music plays a very important part because it’s so iconic, people might not stop themselves from dancing.

“We have a definite market for this musical, the teens of the ‘70s who are now in their 40s and 50s will enjoy this because it’s their era.”

Vince Pesce won a TINA Award for his choreography in the Off Broadway production of Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party (Acorn Theatre).

He also served as Kathleen Marshall’s Associate Choreographer on the Broadway productions of Anything Goes, (2011 Tony Award – Choreography), The Pajama Game starring Harry Connick Jr. (2006 Tony Award – Choreography), Wonderful Town (2004 Tony Award – Choreography), and Little Shop of Horrors.

Vince also directed and choreographed a tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the Mexico City Company of Victor/Victoria and choreographed the National/International tours of ‘S Wonderful (World Premier), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Oliver!, as well as Dancing With Abandon for the New York Fringe Festival and the pre Broadway workshop of Lucky Break directed by John Caird.

His television choreography credits include: the HBO special Tracey Ullman: Live and Exposed starring Tracey Ullman, Clash of the Choirs starring Patti Labelle, Nick Lachey, and Michael Bolton (NBC/Series Choreographer), Grease: You’re The One That I Want (NBC/Series Choreographer), Holiday Splendor starring John Davidson (Disney Channel), The Music Man (Associate Choreographer) starring Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth (ABC/Disney), and Once Upon a Mattress (Associate Choreographer) starring Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman.

This is Vince’s second time in Manila. He choreographed the musical Cinderella in 2008 that starred Lea Salonga.

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Professional dance choreographer Vince Pesce (left) and scenic designer David Gallo (right) reveal challenges of mounting Saturday Night Fever. To get a sneak peek of Saturday Night Fever, CLICK HERE. For ticket inquiries, call Ticketworld at Tel. No. 891-9999 or visit
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