The musical runs until Aug. 4 at Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick. The musical is based on the 1977 blockbuster film, “Saturday Night Fever,” and, according to the MSMT, the performance will whisk viewers back to the 1970s, where open shirts, bell-bottoms, and disco were all the rage.” 

Audiences will enjoy ’70s musical classics including “Stayin’ Alive” and “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees, along with other hits from the decade of disco like “Disco Inferno” by the Trammps.

Leads Alexandra Matteo and Jacob Tischler are talented and create believable characters, which is not always easy to do through the filter of stylized ’70s language and Brooklynese. Tischler, in particular, has a wonderful vocal quality which gives his character some much needed depth, helping him to occasionally transcend the trap of caricature. It’s amusing to hear the character of Stephanie tell Tony “you’re a cliche,” because they are cliches inside a cliche in this show. However, a cliche is a cliche because it’s true. 

What really struck me throughout the production is the aggressive nature of the ’70s. Everything in the first minutes of the show is somehow hostile, not in the form of poor direction, but precisely because that’s what’s appropriate to bring that era and environment to bear. There’s a sense of uneasiness within the music that assails, stressful interactions between familial characters, the bellicose accent of Brooklyn natives, the bold jerkiness of the dance, the attack of color, sheen and texture in the costumes, set and lighting. 

It caused me to ponder, as I watched the familiar story unfold, what was happening during the 70s that created this era in society? The tough-guy characters hang out on bridges and play Rock-Paper-Scissors for fun. A paradoxical reminder that although the late seventies were a complicated time of turmoil, they were also a much, much simpler time.

Don’t misconstrue the collection of negative adjectives in the paragraph above; this is great production. I don’t love the plot arc, but MSMT has done their usual excellent job in execution. The dance numbers, in particular the group scenes, are great fun and what the audience most enjoys. The costumes are 70s fabulousness, and I could not take my eyes off Michael Buchanan as Monty in a spectacular, disjointed ensemble which made it seem like an actual 70s disco master-of-ceremonies had been teleported in. 

This show has pathos, and, thankfully, a lot of humor. I really loved the use of a turntable in the center of the stage for moving from scene to scene. There are a couple standout moments for the supporting cast, including the amazing presence and voice of Courtney Daniels as Candy, especially at the beginning of Act II, and a heartbreaking performance of Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You” by Mariah MacFarlane in the role of Annette. 

Sometimes light, frivolous shows have great little nuggets of wisdom. A repeated line in “Saturday Night Fever” is “wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.” You be you, and let this time capsule transport you to a very specific era. And don’t forget your Boogie Shoes. 

Maine State Music Theatre has added three matinees to accommodate growing audiences. Tickets are available at the box office, at msmt.org or by calling  725-8769.

 Tamara Lilly is a Woolwich native with 30-plus years as performer, tech, producer, director, teacher, board member and staffer at community theaters in Maine, Texas and Pennsylvania. Find the Stage Door Diva Podcast on iTunes or stagedoordiva.com.