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Friday, August 17, 2018

Heist!

I get invited to a lot of shows, and it's not always easy to decide which ones to see. Often I rely on a familiar name: if person A is directing or person B is acting or person C wrote the music, I know I'm likely to enjoy their contribution, at least. But then there are the shows that have no familiar names. In those cases, I make decisions sometimes almost at random, knowing I'm taking a chance.

Blair Medina and Alec Irion
Photo: Michael Kushner

So I took a chance on Heist! for the simple reason that I love heists. Oh, and the theatre is walking distance from my home. I wasn't optimistic, but I was open to having a good time.

And, I'm glad to say, I had a very good time. Heist! is uneven and needs some polishing, but the basics are there: decent plot, some good songs, a strong sense of what is being spoofed. And this particular production has two huge pluses: director James Will McBride and choreographer Jenna Haimes. McBride keeps the piece moving along at a perfect clip and helps his performers find that silly-musical-comedy sweet spot of overacting just the right amount. Haimes manages to make excellent original choreography out of cliche steps, with some fun quoting of famous shows (I caught Chicago and A Chorus Line, but I suspect there are more).

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Art Times: Choreography: Intrinsic or Replaceable?



My latest Art Times essay is up:
In some ways, it’s exciting news: Director Ivo van Hove will stage a production of West Side Story, with new choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Van Hove says he aims to bring the show “into the 21st century.” De Keersmaeker says, “The challenge will be to offer a new reading.” Their ultimate goal is to revitalize a classic.
(read more)

Jerome Robbins (center) demonstrating a dance combination for George Chakiris (left) for the movie version of West Side Story.
Jerome Robbins (center) demonstrating
a dance combination for
George Chakiris (left) for the
movie version of 
West Side Story.