Generally Speaking: Saturday Night Fever’ comes alive in Bay Ridge!

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the epic disco flick starring John Travolta as the fictitious Bay Ridgeite Tony Manero.  So, what better venue to debut the new school-edition of the “Saturday Night Fever” musical than from the auditorium/theater stage at Fontbonne Hall Academy on Shore Road? The southwest high school is just about a rock’s throw from the Narrows Verrazano Bridge which plays a significant role in the original movie.

For better or worse, it was this motion picture that literally put Bay Ridge on the map across the globe.  Since the silver screen production was mostly shot at sites throughout Bay Ridge, the high school play had, as major backdrops, large screen photos of those familiar locales. Some of those iconic backdrops included the Pearson Bay Ridge Hardware Store at 7305 Fifth Avenue, the White Castle then at 92nd Street, Odyssey 2001 (the old Club 802), then at 64th Street and Seventh Avenue, Grand Union supermarket, now replaced by Staples, and inside and outside scenes from Tony’s Bay Ridge home.

Since Fontbonne Hall is an all-girls school, the Bonnies imported Brian Mansell, a junior from New Utrecht High School to play the lead, Tony Manero. Crista Marie DeVito and Anne Russo played the female lead, Stephanie Mangano during alternate performances. My virtual bouquets to the young ladies at Fontbonne who did a terrific job singing and dancing to the pulsating rhythms of the legendary Bee Gees, and a high five to their male counterparts who added to the excitement and pleasure of this version of “Saturday Night Fever.” John Travolta would be proud!

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It just goes to show you, you don’t have to go very far to see some really great performances at our local high schools. Just a few blocks down on Shore Road from Fontbonne Hall Academy is Fort Hamilton High School.  At this Shore Road school, the drama department just completed a highly successful four-day run of their performances of the Tony Award Winning Best Musical “In the Heights,” which drew rave reviews.

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Aldo Mancuso, founder and curator of the Enrico Caruso Museum of America, based here in Brooklyn, was the guest speaker at the May monthly meeting of the Society of Old Brooklynites, at Brooklyn Borough Hall (209 Joralemon Street). Mancuso spoke about the life and times of Rudolph Valentino, known in his heyday as the great “Latin Lover,” and a phenomenal mega star during the silent movie era.  He also played a rare recording of Valentino singing a Spanish love song and showed a news reel of the over 100,000 people that jammed the Campbell Funeral Home in Manhattan for his wake.

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