The Stayin’ Alive Bee Gees tribute band will get a message to you so clearly that you should be dancing — in your seats, if not the aisles — during the trio’s acclaimed renditions of hits by the Brothers Gibb when the band performs April 29 at the La Crosse Center.
And that’s not just jive talkin’ about the Canadian troupe, which generally lives up to its self-proclaimed status as the “World’s No. 1 tribute to the Bee Gees,” judging by its reception and reviews.
Indeed, “Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees” carried the CBS network on its shoulders last Sunday night as Nielsen’s highest-rated show in the 8 to 10 p.m. time slot.
The show slated for the La Crosse Center “really plays tribute to the writing” as well as the Bee Gees’ unique sound, said Todd Sharman, who portrays Robin Gibb, singing lead and backup vocals in the performance.
Two of Sharman’s friends from Toronto are cast in the show’s two other Brothers Gibb roles — Tony Mattina as falsetto-voiced Barry, with lead and backing vocals and playing the guitar, and Joseph Janisse as Maurice on keyboard and backup vocals.
“Tony is a natural on the high pitches, and I don’t play keyboards,” Sharman said in explaining his Bee Gees persona.
The three Gibb doppelgangers formed the band about 12 years ago after brainstorming about creating a stage show.
“We said, ‘How about the Bee Gees?’” Sharman recalled in a phone interview. “It was a specialty niche, and they never had a tribute band.”
The band’s name comes from the Bee Gees’ hit by the same name, a song from the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack that has been famously described as “the national anthem of 1970s.”
The show appeals to all ages, he said. “We find people who grew up with the Bee Gees, their children heard the music at home. Now, we’re playing for them, their children and their grandchildren.”
The 55-year-old Sharman was a teenager at the peak of the Bee Gees’ popularity, propelled in part by the John Travolta disco movie vehicles of “Saturday Night Fever” in 1977 and “Stayin’ Alive” in 1983.
Sharman said he doesn’t favor a particular period but rather, likes all genres that the British-born, Australian-reared Gibbses embraced during their musical evolution over four decades. Their music played an important role in defining two generations of popular culture.
“They always had an R&B sound, and I like the vibe they had in the disco era. Then there are the ballads, such as ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ and ‘Massachusetts,’” said Sharman, who said he never met any of the singing siblings — only one of whom, Barry, is still alive.
The La Crosse show will feature a wide range from the Bee Gees’ playlist, ranging from blockbusters such as “Night Fever,” “Jive Talkin’,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “You Should Be Dancing” and “Stayin’ Alive,” as well as ballads including “I Started a Joke,” “Massachusetts,” “Words” and “To Love Somebody,” among other hits.
Stayin’ Alive’s show extends beyond merely singing the Bee Gees’ hits to include big-screen video clips of the original band in its heyday, large photos projected on the background and lights and imagery reminiscent of the times.
Sharman’s feelings also extend beyond his own role, as he said, “For me, it’s the audiences. They are all different, and all have different atmospheres.”
Audience reciprocation was obvious in a review of Stayin’ Alive’s performance as the final act of the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts in March 2015.
“From the first falsetto-inflected note of their opening number to the final crashing power chords of the encore, audience members were indeed dancing — in the aisles, on the stage and even on chairs at the …. performance of Stayin’ Alive,” the reviewer wrote.