On Sunday 16 February, John Travolta descended on the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. An enraptured crowd gathered to hear the Hollywood legend reflect on everything from his illustrious acting career and becoming a certified pilot, to getting through personal trials and tribulations.
The evening opened with a montage of Travolta’s most famous screen moments, creating an electric atmosphere as the audience was taken on a journey through Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Pulp Fiction, Hairspray and countless other dazzling performances. As he danced out on stage, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this Theatre Royal experience was providing really dawned.
The intimate venue proved the perfect setting for Travolta to divulge revealing anecdotes, first to renowned film critic Barry Norman (who was knowledgeable, sensitive and cheeky (!) in equal measure), then to the audience for the Q&A segment of the evening. He talked us through the inspiration his mother and sisters – Ellen and Margaret, who were in the audience – were to his success, giving him the confidence to succeed in an artistic field. We heard all sorts of surprising insights into his professional career, including how Quentin Tarantino put his career on the line to cast him in Pulp Fiction and that, if circumstances had taken a different turn, we could have seen Travolta star in films including American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman, which ultimately propelled Richard Gere into stardom.
He discussed how his spirituality had helped him through the real tragedies that have afflicted him over the years, and the dreams that had come true ‘having a child, earning a jet licence and getting an Oscar nomination’. Oh yes, the man flies too – in fact he flew in and out of Luton airport itself to make it to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on time. In fact, flying is how he keeps himself motivated ‘I’ve been flying for 37 years, but now teaching others to fly is interesting for me. Sometimes you have to find new angles on life to keep you interested, like sharing success and inspiring and helping others.’ Indeed, we witnessed some of the teacher instinct in Travolta as he gathered members of the audience on stage and taught them the dance to ‘Night Fever’; as he moved, impeccably timed, to the music, it was clear he’s still got it!
There’s plenty in the pipeline. Travolta’s upcoming movie is intriguing-sounding ‘The Forger’, and beyond that well…if an amusing-but-still-serious conversation with a Bond co-producer is anything to go by, we could have just spent the evening with the next Bond villain. And if you ask us, we think he’d nail it.