MANILA, Philippines—Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group and its casting agency based in New York, Tara Rubin Casting (“Les Miserables,” “Miss Saigon”), on Thursday announced that Brandon Rubendall, original cast member of “Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark” on Broadway will step into the dancing shoes of the ‘70s disco icon Tony Manero in the newly reconceptualized production of West End and Broadway hit musical “Saturday Night Fever“
The musical is set to kick off its Asian Tour—its first in eight years—at The Theatre, Solaire Resort and Casino (Aseana Avenue, Parañaque City), from July 3 to 26, 2015.
Playing opposite Rubendall is Jenna Rubaii, Green Day’s “American Idiot” (U.S. and International Tour) alumnus, who will breathe life into the role of Stephanie Mangano, a young office worker-turned-dance partner of Brooklyn’s local discotheque habitué Tony.
“Coincidentally, on the same week I was auditioning for the role of Tony, ‘Saturday Night Fever,’ the film, was playing on TV,” recalled Rubendall. “After I watched it, I couldn’t believe I had never seen the movie until then and how much I related to the role of [the emotionally immature] Tony [played by John Travolta].
“I felt like I was basically watching myself in the movie. Because of how much I’ve connected to the role, I was so calm and confident in the auditions, which is probably why I ended up getting it…and the fact that I love disco music!”
Such instant connection can also be viewed as seemingly cultural for Rubendall and the character of Tony share the same Italian-American ethnicity. “We share the same mannerisms; we speak loudly; and we laugh a lot. So watching Tony’s family fighting over the dinner table and then kiss and make up, I was looking at my own family!” he added.
“That role was written for me! I have to play that role.”
More on Brandon
Rubendall has appeared on Broadway in “Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark” and the 2011 revival of the Tony Award-winning musical “Anything Goes.”
Rubendall has also toured in the productions of “Wicked,” playing the romantic lead role of Fiyero; “Hairspray,” playing the roles of Fender and the lead hunk, Link Larkin; and “The Last 5 Years,” playing the role of up-and-coming novelist Jamie Wellerstein.
He currently plays in the band Apollo Link, and occasionally dances for music icons Madonna, Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez.
From Green Day to Bee Gees
Ecstatic on bagging the role of Stephanie, Rubaii, who is no stranger to disco-themed musicals having been part of Broadway Legend Tommy Tune’s new musical “Fifty Four Forever” –inspired by the infamous New York night club Studio 54—feels perfectly good in the arms of her new leading man, Rubendall, whom she shared a rarely luxurious amount of time studying scenes from the musical during the auditions’ final callback in New York.
“Our director, Bobby Garcia, spent a generous amount of time working with us on the material during the audition process, which you don’t get often. That also made me feel so comfortable in the room with my scene partner, Brandon,” Rubaii said. “We had such a good time together. It was so fun reading the scenes. We were so willing to play the characters of Tony and Stephanie!”
She added, “Our director has been very focused on finding the truth in these characters and in the story, which is really beautiful.
“So many times you get musicals like this that are so famous for their music or film adaptations, and it just becomes a ‘fluffy,’ ‘fun’ piece. Of course, this musical will be plenty of fun, but there’s also a beautiful journey that these characters take—it’s a snapshot of young lives during this specific generation. I think it’s important to honor that.”
More on Jenna
Rubaii has appeared in the National (U.S.) and International Tour of Green Day’s hit musical “American Idiot,” playing the role of The Extraordinary Girl.
For 12 years—starting at six years old—she has joined the all-girls song and dance group Entertainment Revue, which travelled across the U.S. to perform for various corporate and sporting events, retirement communities, fundraisers, and political rallies.
She’s an excellent impersonator of famous pop singer Britney Spears.
Excited director Bobby
Director Bobby Garcia is more than pleased. “When Brandon and Jenna walked into the audition room, I knew immediately that they were Tony and Stephanie. They possess that complex combination of grit and vulnerability and are both terrific actors. Add to that they are excellent singers and dancers; the triple threat combination is not easy to find,” he said.
“I could not be more pleased that they will be leading this brand new Asian Tour of “SNF.” I can’t wait to work with them,” he added.
“SNF’s” depiction of the uncompromisingly sordid 1970’s New York not only made a dance revolution at that time, but also spoke straight to a generation of lost, struggling young adults. Gone amiss in the earlier deliberately more family-friendly film-to-stage adaptations of the famed movie musical, which propelled Travolta to superstardom and made the music of The Bee Gees instant cult classics, “SNF’s” gritty legacy is what Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group is bringing back to the stage.
For this reconceptualized production of “SNF,” a formidable, first-rate creative team has been assembled, which includes, besides Garcia as director, Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo (“Memphis,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”), choreographer Vince Pesce (“Anything Goes,” “The Pajama Game”), lighting designer Paul Miller (“Legally Blonde,” “Hairspray”), costume designer Eric Pineda (Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Tarzan”), and musical director Ceejay Javier (“Shrek The Musical,” “Addams Family).
“SNF,” which features popular songs from the film such as “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “More Than A Woman,” “Tragedy,” “Disco Inferno,” “How Deep is Your Love,” and “You Should Be Dancing,” follows the story of Tony, a young wannabe disco king who comes from a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Every Saturday night at a local discotheque, Tony dons his flares and struts his stuff on the dance floor—causing a stir as he wows the crowd with his extraordinarily rare dance strokes. When Tony meets office worker-turned-dancer Stephanie, both train together for a dance competition, which will eventually change the course of their lives.
“SNF,” which is also set to tour Kuala Lumpur (September 1 to 15), Singapore (September 25 to October 11), and Macau (TBA), in Cooperation with the Robert Stigwood Organization.
For tickets and more information, call (632)892-7078 or like facebook.com/ATEGasia.