Saturday Night Fever Cologne remembered

13 Jun

If you have been following my blog you might have guessed by now that I am what one could call a theatre geek. I adore theatre. It’s by far my favourite way of spending my free time and I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without the arts.

And in just a little over 2 weeks a very special date is coming up. June 30th 2012 will mark the 10th anniversary of the last performance of the show that started it all of: Saturday Night Fever in Cologne. It wasn’t the first musical I’d seen in my life but it was the one that really made me into what I am today: A complete theatre enthusiast.
It’s funny because I can’t even name the exact date of my first visit to Saturday Night Fever (although I’m 100% sure I still have the ticket somewhere in my ticket collection). It must have been sometime in autumn 1999 and I remember the ticket was a gift from my parents – they are probably still blaming themselves for my theatre addiction.

Group shot taken on the last day of the show

So, Saturday Night Fever – yes, the musical adaption of the popular movie. And yes, a German production of the show (meaning German dialogues and English songs). Until then I had never seen the same production more than 3 times and I had never been a regular at any theatre. But this changed once I got hooked on this colourful show with all its catchy tunes and fabulous choreography. During the first year my visits were rare – first of all I still regarded watching a musical a very special occasion and then I was only a student back then which ment money was quite tight. It wasn’t until late summer 2000 that I started making monthly visits to the show. And from 2001 on those visits became weekly until I was basically living inside the theatre. I remember one of the dressers telling me and a friend: “You are not fans! You are  part of the theatre!” I’m sure some of the people who worked at the theatre thought we were crazy and I don’t blame them. But we never felt out-of-place. No, actually it was like being part of a community. There were us few regulars, the front of house people (the theatre wouldn’t have been the same without Hamid – I wish I knew what he was doing today), the “Bistro” people (which was the theatre’s little bar – we could spend all day in there without getting bored thanks to Rainer – the owner – and his staff), the backstage people (Ralfi who was running the theatre canteen, for example, or Hubert from stage door – such a one of a kind person!) and the cast.
Whilst everyone except us was doing a job there it was more than just work for most of those guys and girls. Saturday Night Fever was special and we – the supporters of the show – were in a way part of this very special show.

Michelle Escano (Maria) and Robb Morris (Chester)

Before Saturday Night Fever I had never spoken to a performer and suddenly I was right in the middle of a bunch of lovely and talented people from around the world. Those guys loved their job (with few exceptions – you will always get a few people who are just in it for the money) and they loved being part of the Night Fever family. And the thing that was most extraordinary for me at the time was that they accepted us – the fans – and made us feel welcome and appreciated. Not once during my 2,5 years at that theatre did I feel like the cast didn’t want me there or was getting annoyed by my presence. I will always cherish the friendliness I experienced from those people who were working so hard to put on a great show for the audience day by day and who would always have a nice word for me and my friends despite being busy and often simply beyond tired.

Aykut Hilmi (Doube J) and Gerald Marko (ensemble)

It has been almost 10 years now since Saturday Night Fever left the blue tent (that’s what we called the Musical Dome which is the theatre the show ran in – google it and you will understand why). I have seen other productions of this show over the years and I loved most of them. But none ever came close to the Cologne production. It wasn’t just a show – it was a huge part of my life at the time. I’ve met so many amazing people through this production, a lot of whom I am still in contact with today.
I am proud to call some of the performers I have met through Saturday Night Fever my friends today. Some of them are still performing – a few even in London. I will go and see them in whatever show they are in or we’ll just meet up for a catch up when time allows. And most of them have nothing but the fondest memories of their time in Cologne.

Curtain call, last performance on June 30 2002

Even if you have never seen Saturday Night Fever you might recognise a few of the performers who were part of the show. To name just a few:
Peter Johansson (who went on to play Galileo in We will rock you London)
Mike Denman (Contact, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chicago, Never Forget and currently Wizard of Oz – all in London)
Ashley Hale (Guys and Dolls, Dirty Dancing, Jersey Boys and lately Shrek in London to name just a few)
Luke Jackson (yes, the guy from “So you think you can dance”)
Sebastien Torkia (Guys and Dolls and currently playing Ed in the Lion King in London)
Matthew Cole  (understudy for Adam/Felicia in the original London cast of Priscilla)
Michael Rouse (Legolas in Lord of the Rings in London)
Stephane Anelli (Jose in Never Forget to name just one show and currently appearing at Regents Park Open Air Theatre)
Aykut Hilmi (he has just started as a regular in East Enders)

The two performers I am especially grateful to have met can’t go unnamed although most of you won’t have heard of them: Marc Seitz and Matthew Huet. Both are exceptionally talented and all in all fantastic guys and I feel very lucky to know them.

Me and Matthew Huet (Cesar) in 2000

So, what is the point of this post? I simply wanted to share a few memories of a very special time in my theatre life. Without Saturday Night Fever I might never have become the theatre addict I am today – and trust me, I love being a theatre addict!
I’ve seen various shows over the years and met a lot of lovely people (performers, fans etc) but nothing will ever come close to the Night Fever times. Maybe it has to do with the fact that this was my first ever experience of theatre life. But mostly it’s because I don’t think there will ever be a theatre community like this again – the people, the theatre, the production – it was perfect.Like Cheyenne (Double J and Tony Manero in the show) used to say: Keep the fever!
This simple quote is still valid even after 10 years and I’m sure for everyone that was part of this show in any way it will never lose its meaning.

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8 Responses to “Saturday Night Fever Cologne remembered”

  1. Michaela June 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Hallo Steffi,
    ich lese deinen Blog total gerne.
    Dieses Mal fand ich es besonders cool mal zu erfahren wie alles angefangen hat :-)… Jetzt würde mich aber interessieren wie es dich theatermäßig von Köln nach London verschlagen hat.
    Liebe Grüße, Michaela

    • theatregirl June 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      Hi,
      freut mich dass du Spass an meinem Blog hast. Danke fürs Lesen! 🙂
      Der Weg von Köln nach London war eigentlich ganz einfach: Ich bin einem der Kölner Darsteller (Mike Denman um genau zu sein) quasi nach London “gefolgt”. Er hat kurz nach der letzten Vorstellung von Saturday Night Fever einen Job im West End bekommen. Contact im Queen’s Theatre war das damals und ich bin rübergeflogen um ihn dort zu sehen. Und ganz nebenbei hab ich dann meine Liebe für die Londoner Theaterwelt entdeckt. Weitere Besuche folgten, ich hab immer mehr tolle Shows und fantastische Darsteller dort “entdeckt” und so ist die Stadt im Lauf der Jahre meine 2. Heimat geworden. 🙂 x

  2. Rainer August 24, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    Na, DAS ist ja eine Überraschung !

    Hallo Steffi,
    ab und zu stöbere ich im Net nach Infos zur “guten alten Zeit” von SNF in Köln,
    und bin heute auf diese Seite gestoßen. War ne super Zeit damals im MD, der
    ich auch heute noch immer etwas nachtraure.

    Ich hoffe, es geht Dir gut, und Du pflegst Deine Liebe zum Musical
    auch weiterhin ( ich bin nächste Woche wieder einmal für 2 Tage
    in London, um mir 2 Shows anzusehen).

    Liebe Grüße,

    Rainer
    (former BISTRO MD Köln)

    • Steffi August 24, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

      Rainer!!! 🙂
      Wie schön von dir zu hören! Ich vermiss die super Zeit im Musical Dome. Nach SNF war es nicht mehr dasselbe.
      Ich bin dem Theater treu geblieben. Es verschlägt mich seit Jahren sehr oft nach London und inzwischen ist auch New York eine Theater-Heimat geworden.
      Sehe ein paar der Kölner SNFler noch ab und zu. Letzte Woche hab ich mich noch mit Mike Denman getroffen und in Erinnerungen geschwelgt. 🙂

      Ganz viel Spass in London – meine zweite Heimat.

      Viele Grüsse,
      Steffi

      • Rainer August 24, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

        Danke, es wird DI das 2. Mal “BILLY ELLIOT” sein, und am nächsten Tag MI nachmittags das 2. Mal “THE BOOK OF MORMON” ( beide aber diesmal gaaaanz vorne an der Bühne, Du kanntest ja meinen Platz im MD- grins.). TBOM liebe ich, ich habe mich selten in einer Show so gut amüsiert und laut lachen können, super CAST ! Mir fehlt noch
        GYPSY, aber das werde ich wohl im Oktober schaffen.Bin gespannt, ob mir
        Imelda Staunton genau so gut gefällt wir Dir. Ich kenne bisher nur die Verfilmung
        von 1962 mit der sensationellen Rosalind Russel ( schöne, rauchige Stimme):

        http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/294209/Gypsy-Movie-Clip-Everything-s-Coming-Up-Roses.html

        Mike Denman ist, wie ich sehe, zur Zeit mit BODYGUARD on Tour in UK, BODYGUARD sehe ich mir aber erst in der 1. Preview in Köln am 10.11. an ( ich LIEBE Previews ! ),
        vielleicht sehen wir uns da ?

        Liebe Grüße aus Köln ( auch bitte an die
        früheren SNFler, wenn Du sie triffst),

        Rainer

        P.S. Ein DICKES LOB für Dein absolut perfektes Englisch,
        I raise my hat and make a bow !!!

      • Steffi August 24, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

        Book of Mormon: Ganz grosses Kino. Und Stephen Ashfield stiehlt die Show als McKinley. 🙂
        Gypsy ist wirklich grossartig.
        Hab am Samstag die zweite Preview von Kinky Boots gesehen. Kann ich auch empfehlen. Eine klasse Show mit Witz und Herz.

        Ich hab bisher noch keine Pläne für Bodyguard in Köln. Werde sicher mal reingehen aber ich bin bei der Show sehr vorbelastet da ich die unvergleichliche Heather Headley x-Mal in London gesehen hab. Sollte es mich zur ersten Preview verschlagen sag ich bescheid.
        Jep, Mike “stalkt” Rachel Marron auf Tour. Macht er prima. 😉

  3. Rainer August 28, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    “Hallo Steffi,

    hast Du DAS schon in London gesehen?

    http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-large/grand-hotel/

    Ich hab nämlich am DI nachmittags noch Zeit, lohnt sich das ? Die Produktionsvideos sind interessant.

    Liebe Grüße

    Rainer

    • Steffi August 28, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

      Hi! Hab ich nicht gesehen, nein. Habe gemischte Meinungen gehört. Tolle Cast, Produktion mit Schwächen.
      Aber das Southwark Playhouse ist generell ein nettes kleines Theater.
      Wenn es zeitlich passt würd ich an deiner Stelle reingehen. 🙂

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