Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Hairspray… These are just three of the films that have sky-rocketed John Travolta into the spotlight over the last few years – and boy, what a great career it has been! In the second line-up of the “A Conversation With…” series, John Travolta sat down with journalist legend Barry Norman to talk about his life, his career and his love for acting.
Norman opens the event by simply reminding the audience of the absolutely incredible career Travolta has had with a montage of his best hits. Everything from Looks Who’s Talking to Pulp Fiction pops up, making the Theatre Royal audience go wild. Then Travolta walks onto the stagee – or should I say “strut”. Yes, he enters to ‘Staying Alive’, echoing his performance as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever. I do not think my ears have actually recovered yet…
He sits down on a leather sofa next to Norman, announcing just seconds into the event that he wants to make love to every single member of the audience. He is wonderfully charismatic from beginning to end, leaving no question unanswered, even when Norman says to Travolta that he has been in some terrible films – he is happy to admit that. We also got a look into his personal life with a short film about his flying career, but also hearing about much more personal matters including his faith in Scientology and the death of his son Jett.
The audience Q & A takes the night on a lovely turn, ranging from questions about musicals and films to which characters he would love to return to. However (and quite understandably!) there were also many requests about dancing with Travolta and he was happy to comply. When an audience member asked Travolta if he could teach his wife to dance, and he grabbed her into a lovely slow dance (they both got more than a handful!), while he also seized some lady members of the audience to recreate the famous You’re The One That I Want dance.
But over the hour it is quite clear that Travolta keeps on going for three sets of people – his self, his two sisters and lastly (and something Travolta could not emphasis enough) his fans. He talked profusely about carrying on with his acting career because he loves it, and that because he loves doing it his fans get that vibe too, making his performance much more enjoyable on the eye – and it could not be more true. Even when he is sitting down just talking about his life, he cannot stop looking to the audience. He came across as genuine and free-spirited when he burst on the scene in Saturday Night Fever, and that is why the Theatre Royal was absolutely packed to the rafters with film and musical fans.
It was relaxed, captivating and the most fun I have seen on a West End stage for a long while. The stage and screen are both lacking Travolta nowadays, and hopefully this night will make him want to come back. Come on John – we miss you!
A Conversation With… continues in June with Al Pacino at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.