ARCHIVES – DANCE THAT OPENED IN FEBRUARY.2014


abrahamKYLE ABRAHAM/ABRAHAM.IN.MOTION. THE RADIO SHOW. You only have until Saturday to catch this World Stage offering. Abraham is one of New York’s brightest lights. The supple dancers execute fluid, total body choreography in this show about memory and communication. As a dancesmith, Abraham knows how to rivet the eye with movement that always catches you by surprise. No wonder he won a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation. An ambitious show in content that maybe doesn’t get quite get to where it should in substance, but the choreography rocks. (Closes Feb. 8, Fleck Dance Theatre, www.harbourfrontcentre.com.)

DANCE IMMERSION. CELEBRATING OUR MEN IN DANCE. This show, also on a short run, is part of Black History Month. Curator Vivine Scarlett has opted to program 8 male choreographers to present black men in a positive light. They hail originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, and Jamaica, while two are Toronto born. The dance ranges from traditional to contemporary and presents a wide spectrum of themes. While the quality is uneven, the bill of fare is entertaining. This is an important show because it speaks to Canada’s multicultural mosaic. (Closes Feb 8, Enwave Theatre, www.harbourfrontcentre.com.)

Mirvish Productions. Heartbeat of Home. This new production, from the team that brought you Riverdance two decades ago, is an immensely enjoyable, professional-looking, polished dance show where everything hangs together as smooth as silk. The music score is sensational and the band it hot. Despite some weaknesses to the look of the show, it certainly deserves a long shelf life. (Closes Mar. 2, Ed Mirvish Theatre, www.mirvish.com.) See full website review, http://wp.me/p2s1nr-zz.

Mirvish Productions. ARRABAL. There’s mostly good news about the dance theatre show Arrabal. The choreography is sharply-edged sensuality and the music is scorching hot. On the down side, the book is weak, but, in the final analysis, who cares. The look of the show, from the gorgeous Argentinian dancers to the towering projections and sexy costumes, is scrumptious. In this coming of age story, the virginal heroine Arrabal (Micaela Spina) discovers that her father is one of the desaparecidos, a dissident who was arrested by the ruling military junta and made to disappear. (Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo and Julio Zurita, book by John Weidman, Closes May 11, Panasonic Theatre, www.mirvish.com.) See full Globe and Mail review (http://bit.ly/1g0KvNh).

Theatre Review – The Wizard of Oz (Mirvish)

The new Andrew Lloyd Webber production of the much beloved film The Wizard of Oz is, in a word, pleasant.

The staging and décor stay pretty much to the original movie, and maybe that’s the problem. I remember a Wizard production of many years ago that played at the Elgin, which was really imaginative. For example, in the poppy field scene, luscious, seductive chorines were the poppies. This production is very routine by comparison.

The show does have several things going for it. The Canadian cast is strong. It’s nice to see Cedric Smith back on stage as the Professor/Wizard. Lisa Horner does a great job as the Wicked Witch. The three farm hands/Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow, Mike Jackson, Lee MacDougall and Jamie McKnight respectively, are all talented guys. Charlotte Moore as Auntie Em and Larry Mannell as Uncle Henry are always good, no matter what. Robin Evan Willis is a gorgeous Glinda, and Toto is adorable. Danielle Wade as Dorothy (who was chosen by a television audience is not charismatic as she could be, but does, in a word, give a pleasant performance.

The best thing about the show is the additional songs by Webber and Tim Rice, which fall mainly in the Kansas scenes. Rice is clever, and is still the best lyricist that Webber ever worked with. They have also written an anthem that is destined to become a classic. “Already Home” boasts a beautiful melody and stirring words. Any chanteuse/chanteur is going to want to latch on to that one. It’s also nice that Herbert Stothart’s original background score has been incorporated into the show to go with the Arlen/Harburg original songs.

Out of fairness, I should mention that the mostly geriatric matinee audience seemed to enjoy the show muchly. I’m just disappointed that the production wasn’t more innovative.

The Wizard of Oz, original songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, additional songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, (starring Danielle Wade, Cedric Smith, Lisa Horner, Mike Jackson, Lee MacDougall, Jamie McKnight, Robin Evan Willis, Larry Mannell and Charlotte Moore, directed by Jeremy Sams), Mirvish Productions, Ed Mirvish Theatre, Dec. 20 to Jun. 2, 2012