What a show!!! What a show, show, show, show, show!
There is something for everyone in this show. Don’t like musicals? These dancers don’t sing. Don’t like plays? They don’t talk either.
Twyla Tharp has taken the great American Songbook and turned it into the great American Dance Concert. It is an evening of exceptional music combined with artists who defy gravity.
The story takes place at a bar reminiscent of something Damon Runyan might have dreamed up, except these people are dressed better. One by one the characters enter the dark den. Betsy ( Laura Mead) is the new girl in town and sends an arrow through the heart of a waiter, Marty (Charlie Neshyba-Hodges). Sid (John Selya) complete with fedora and flashy jacket, is on his own, looking for a gal to extend her long legs around any part of him she wants. Kate (Karine Plantadit) is wild, wild woman who gets as much out of tormenting her lover (Hank (Keith Roberts) as she does dancing with him. Chanos (Matthew Stockwell BDibble) and Babe (Holley Farmer) are the couple most likely to break up and Slim (Rika Okamoto) and Sid are the two to do it.
These eight, plus a chorus of 6 dancers say everything they need to in time to the vocal styling of Frank Sinatra – but what no one is mentioning is the additional vocal styling of Hilary Gardner who is so fine and elegant that it takes a song or two to notice that she is alive and glowing. There is also a superb orchestra under the direction of Patrick Vaccariello.
So intricate an evening! The music and dance is literally woven together. Dances begin in silence and are joined by instrument or voice at precisely the right moment. Horns blare and dancers levitate. A velvet voice is melded with a velvet shoe. Tharp’s work is specific and flamboyant. She is technical and passionate. She is detailed and overseeing. And she is still sitting in the audience each night taking notes.
This is the kind of artwork that makes you think “I want to do that” one second and then literally gasp in the next second because you cannot believe what you just saw. Tharp knows her dancers intimately and designs their work to suit their talents. Neshbya-Hodges is a clown of supreme ability. John Seyla (a stand-out in the recent Guys And Dolls) is a compact man with springs for joints. Karine Plantadit is merely visiting the planet because you just know that her preferred mode of transportation is flying. Stockwell Dibble and Roberts are not only dancers but actors as well. These were the standouts who had me sitting in my seat like a little girl at the circus. I was afraid to watch one person for too long, lest another dancer executed a move I just had to see.
It is an evening of pure magic. I do not know how people leap up in the air and land without making a sound. I do not know how lifts can become marathon maneuvers in which one person is aloft for a very, very long time. I do not know how a person collapses in a heap and then rights himself as if he were being assisted by an unseen hand. I just know that all this and more is happening every night on the big beautiful stage at the Marquis because I seen it my own self.
This is what big beautiful bold craft is all about. It transcends its parts, and when Sinatra’s image is glittered alive at the end, you think “Oh yeah – him too!” This is more than a salute to one man. This is full-blown fantasy in flight.
"Dazzling new dance musical"
Charles Isherwood for New York Times
"A flight to nowhere."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"After a while, repetitiveness seeps in."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"The show has a strong visceral appeal, with all that talent strutting its stuff."
Roma Torre for NY1`
"Things never come quite as spontaneously as we expect in what may be Twyla’s twilight.
John Simon for Bloomberg
"Twyla Tharp is back on her A game."
David Sheward for Back Stage
"A wonderful alchemy .... has combined two disparate elements and created magic"
Robert Feldberg for The Record
"It's got flash but no heart."
Michael Sommers forNewJerseyNewsroom
"Twyla Tharp's libido-charged love letter to romance."
Michael Kuchwara for Associated Press
"Will best be appreciated by dance aficionados rather than general audiences."
Frank Scheck for The Hollywood Reporter
"Only intermittently gets off the ground."
Steven Suskin for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...