SATURDAY Night Fever is so synonymous with the Bee Gees’ disco hits that it’s easy to forget there was darkness behind the glitter ball in the 1977 movie.

Four decades on, a new stage production pays homage to the film; capturing the energy with hot new choreography to a score that includes Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever and More Than a Woman. Stepping into the shoes of Tony Manero, the working-class guy seeking escapism on a Brooklyn dance floor, is dancer and former Casualty star Richard Winsor.

“John Travolta’s performance in the film was what got me dancing as a kid” says Richard. “I remembered the incredible moments from the film, all its themes, and thought: ‘If we get that clear and honest for a new stage version, it could be really amazing.’

“We’re taking it back to that dark setting. We’re not shying away from that. It’s still going to be a stage dance show, but we’re really finding the realism in it.”

Saturday Night Fever follows Tony on a thrilling but reckless journey to dance success. “He’s a young, enigmatic guy who hasn’t had much opportunity in life,” says Ricahrd. “He’s from a hard-working, down-on-their-luck Brooklyn family, and works in a paint store for minimal wages. But when he goes to the 2001: Odyssey nightclub, he’s king of the dance floor. He loves the attention, the sweat, the heat, the women. When the club announces a dance competition with a prize of $1,000 and the chance to dance in Manhattan, it’s a big deal for him. It offers him a chance to escape.”

The Bee Gees score is one of the best-loved soundtracks in cinema history. How is it used it in this production? “We wanted to keep the music close to the brilliant original soundtrack, supporting the drama and tragedies as they unfold,” says Richard. “Hearing the music played live is amazing.”

Is it daunting to follow the footsteps of Travolta? “It’s a challenge. I want to draw from him, not imitate him. I’ve got so much to play off - the ways of standing, walking, dancing. But I have to play my own reality, otherwise it’s imitation,” says Richard.

This production marks the film’s 40th anniversary. Is it still relevant? “With Trump threatening to build a wall, and people with striving for a better life, it’s interesting to look at it and think ‘How far have we come?’ Forty years on, families are talking about not being employed and trying to break free. It’s all still there.”

Richard started out dancing with Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company and went on to join Casualty as Caleb Knight. He played him from 2014-2017, when the doctor was fatally stabbed by a patient’s relative. “I joined Matthew as my first job out of college. I was 19. It was a wonderful time,” he says. “I loved Casualty. I learned so much and worked with many great guest artists. I got a lovely big ending as too. When I suggested I was ready to try a new challenge elsewhere, they said my character deserved to be killed. I didn’t know how to take that, but it is a huge compliment. They only do it once every two or three years.”

* Saturday Night Fever runs at the Alhambra from November 20-24. Call (01274) 432000.

Emma Clayton