Congratulations to Anna Baker (BRVS alumna and Emerson graduate) who has been cast as “Annette” in the national tour of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER! Get your tickets now for the performance at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland on January 18, 2015!
Features | A&E/Invite
Girl with a fever: Rutland native makes her national tour debut at Paramount
By George V. Nostrand
Staff Writer | January 14,2016
If there was a soundtrack for the 1970s, there’s no question that the list would be heavily saturated by music by the Bee Gees. And if there was an iconic image, it would be John Travolta striking his famous dance pose, standing on a multi-color lit dance floor, pointing to the sky in his white leisure suit.
“Saturday Night Fever,” the movie, came out in 1977, at the height of the disco era, propelled the career of Travolta and won multiple Grammy awards for the Bee Gees. Almost 40 years later the story is still alive in the form of the Broadway National Tour of “Saturday Night Fever – The Musical” coming to the Paramount Theatre in Rutland at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18.
While many may picture Travolta on the dance floor and remember the movie as being farcical, the original film actually addressed many adult and even dark themes. At the heart the story is a young man stuck in a dead end job, still living with his family, and hanging out with the same gang of friends. He finds his only real release on the dance floor but understands even that is fleeting. Over the course of the movie, issues of drug use, racial tension, violence and even rape are woven through the bass-heavy, psychedelic air. Even religious belief is challenged.
Other modern productions have skated around many of these challenging themes. Director Jeffrey B. Moss says that’s not the case with this musical.
“There’s a story here. (The musical) is hugely entertaining, but it’s about something. It’s about a time in a young man’s life where he’s poised to do something different — to make a change. It’s about that time, 1977, and all that goes with it.”
Moss says the musical is about the film without imitating or replicating it. As a director he knows there are challenges when adapting such a well-known film for stage.
“It’s about the challenge of story-telling — meeting the author’s expectations, as well as the audience’s expectations and remembrances. People carry an iconic feeling when it comes to movies like this. The story has to come alive on stage. Making the musical dramatically viable by capturing the emotions, as well as the dance and songs, is crucial.”
Moss is confident his cast will be successful in this and more — in part because he has a “ringer.”
“Anna hits it way outta’ the park. Seeing is believing. Come see this local ‘girl done good’.”
The Anna he is referring to is Anna Baker, Rutland native and graduate of Rutland High, who plays the role of Annette in the production.
While Baker wasn’t even born in 1977 when the movie came out, she feels the themes in the story are universal.
“Everyone can relate to being a teen and not knowing what to do,” Baker shared during a phone interview on her lunch break from rehearsal. “We can all relate to being in love and not getting what we want — to feeling lost.”
At the same time she shared how challenging that can be.
“It’s dangerous — to get up on stage in front of people — to try to capture going back to the ‘70s and portraying a girl in love.”
In preparing for the role, Baker did go back and watch the movie but feels that coming from a place of honesty is equally important.
“It’s about letting the emotion inform the character. When you see someone doing it right, the audience feels with the actor,” she said.
At 25 and a half, Baker describes theater as her “life, religion and safe haven.” Raised by a mother who started the Rutland Youth Theatre, Baker’s parents drove her to Burlington or Weston during middle and high school so she could participate in plays. After high school she went to school in Boston and now lives in Manhattan.
Baker has recently played major roles in stage productions of “Funny Girl, “Les Miserables” and “Annie Get Your Gun.” She is very excited about coming back to Vermont to perform for her hometown.
“I spent a lot of time on the Paramount stage with the Rutland Youth Theatre, when the Paramount was just getting back up and running again.”
As for her fans?
Baker laughs. “I think my dad bought out the whole fourth row. And there will be teachers, choral directors, music teachers and dance instructors in the audience. Together they taught me everything and instilled in me that I can do it — that I was meant to do this.”
The Paramount Theatre presents the Broadway Touring Production of “Saturday Night Fever – The Musical,” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, 30 Center St. in Rutland. Tickets are $41.50-$47.50; calling 802-775-0903, or go online to www.paramountlive.org.