Performing has always been a passion for Jeremy Jason Sartin. His mother would say he got his start when the power went out when he was 5.
“I proceeded to light candles and put on a 45-minute singing, dancing and comedy routine,” Sartin says laughing. “At the end of it, I said thank you and bowed and went up to my room.”
The Nashville-born Sartin is playing Tony Manero in Arizona Broadway Theatre’s production of Saturday Night Fever, which continues through August 20. He is no stranger to the Arizona Broadway Theatre stage, as he’s performed in its All Shook Up, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Cats.
While he now lives in New York, where the humidity rivals Arizona’s dry heat, he says his past shows in the Valley have prepared him for the Sonoran Desert’s intense summer.
“I’ve kind of learned how to negotiate the heat out here,” Sartin says. “I know how to dodge it and stay in the air conditioning and run from your house to the car.”
He has performed in musicals and plays across the world, however this is his first time starring in the musical based on the classic John Travolta movie. It tells the story of Manero, a young man in Brooklyn who feels trapped. He turns to the discotheque each week, where he is king of the dance floor and admired by many, including Stephanie, another young dancer.
The musical follows the same soundtrack that made the film a hit, featuring songs like “If I Can’t Have You,” “Disco Inferno” and “Stayin’ Alive”—but with a twist.
“It’s the traditional Bee Gees songs you know but they’ve been put on to the characters and really made to tell their story,” Sartin says. “I think it’s a very cool new way to see the piece.”
Being a John Travolta and Bee Gees fan, Sartin says finding his inner disco dancer wasn’t a complete stretch. It wasn’t an easy feat, though, to sing and dance each night during the emotional story.
“It’s become kind of a triple-threat role,” Sartin says. “You have to do everything so it’s exciting to play for sure.”
Before he goes out as Manero, Sartin’s preshow ritual involves physical and vocal warmups, tongue twisters and speech practice to “get into” his Brooklyn dialect.
While he loves the dance numbers and fun music, it’s the acting scenes in between that are his favorite part.
“There’s a progression (between Stephanie and Manero) you see from the beginning of the show to the end,” Sartin says. “She’s not the nicest to him in the beginning, but we get to see quite a journey of their two lives together.”
It’s a journey that Sartin says might hit audiences when they’re not expecting it—leading them to dance in their seats at some points and pulling their heart strings at others. It’s all part of the beauty that is live theater.
“On the stage, you’re performing to a live audience and they have their own reactions, sometimes surprising reactions that you didn’t even expect,” Sartin says.
“That’s kind of amazing when you can feel an audience giving energy back— that’s really what made me fall in love with theater.”
Saturday Night Fever, Arizona Broadway Theatre, 7701 W. Paradise Lane, Peoria, azbroadway.org, times vary, now through Sunday, August 20, $38.50-$95.