a group of people standing on top of a stage

Bring your “Boogie Shoes” and get ready for a weekend of “Disco Inferno” at Marathon High School. The drama club has a serious case of “Saturday Night Fever.”

Based on the classic 1977 John Travolta film, the jukebox musical version of 19-year-old paint store clerk Tony Manero’s story premiered in 1998 in London’s West End and is more family-friendly than its source material. But there’s still plenty of inspiration to take from the original film, the drama club cast told the Weekly.

“If there’s one thing you take away from that era, it’s the fashion, the dance and the music,” said Elise Dolton, who served as the production’s student director alongside her on-stage role as Pauline. “I feel like a lot of people who are coming to the show are trying to see if we’re doing it right.”

Tasked with playing Travolta’s legendary character as he leads his gang of friends (“The Faces”), junior Christian Fernandez said he tried to adopt an air of “overwhelming confidence, because he (Travolta) has this presence about him, and this overwhelming desire to be the best. And his walk is really iconic.”

“We had to teach him to strut,” laughed junior Ella Dunn, who plays Tony’s love interest Stephanie Mangano. “He had to watch the movie and take notes, because for a while we told him, ‘This is you, man.’ I mean, look at his shoes!”

The production marks the first musical for director April Sullivan, herself an MHS alum and former drama club member who this year took up the mantle of longtime club head Lyn Cox. And though her cast admitted their beloved former director left “big shoes to fill,” they praised a collaborative approach from Sullivan – and some leeway to go all-out with their disco costumes.

“April has definitely given us more creative license,” said junior Rylee Seligson, who serves as the student choreographer when she’s not pining after Tony as Annette. “We get to take some of the ideas we come up with and actually implement them in the show. … Elise has been actually directing, and I got to actually choreograph.”

Sullivan praised the leadership of club president Dakota Mertyris for “taking over handling the boys” and called Dolton “my ‘everything’ person.”

“When she’s not on stage, she’s out here with me taking notes and going over everything with the cast, and Rylee is the same way too,” she said. “Being these lead parts, they all have their little responsibilities, but the big thing that they’ve done all together is being able to be a role model for so many new students who joined this year.”

Sullivan said the collaborative effort in bringing “Saturday Night Fever” to life was a conscious decision on her part.

“I want this to be a student-run club,” she said. “It’s the perfect club for that. A lot of them want to continue theater after high school, and they need that experience running the show, doing choreography, stage managing – all of it.”

Curtains rise for “Saturday Night Fever” at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 14. Tickets are $15 and are available at the door of the MHS Performing Arts Center.

Alex Rickert
Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.