Frank Sinatra is considered one of the greatest performers ever to entertain the world. From acting to singing, to directing or producing, Sinatra has left his mark on millions the world over. With the help of today’s technology, Ol Blue Eyes is singing his heart out in the 22nd century framed by dance of the illustrious master of movement, Twyla Tharp.
With a cast of 14 world class dancers and a live 14 piece big band you are transported into a night of passion, love, hate, competition, rejoice and the nervousness of 4 couples meeting at a nightclub.
Packed with exquisite mix of every style of dance you can think ‘Come Fly Away’ is a demonstration of Tharp’s passion for creativity and story without words. Don’t get me wrong, Tharp being the creative mind that she is chose a great assembly of music whose lyrics fill the void of the cast needing to speak and just use their body as the tool of expressing the storyline.
Marty, played by Christopher Vo, is the bartender how is a rookie in the game of love. Ramona Kelley is Betsy the young lady Marty is enamored with. In to help Marty is Sid played by Stephen Hanna, a straight laced Sinatra-esqu character seeking his soul mate. Kate and Slim are the two party girls out for a night of fun played by Ashley Blair Fitzgerald and Marielys Molina. The girls are being escorted by the man’s man Hank played by Anthony Burrel. And last but definitely not least to the story is Matthew Stockwell Dibble and Meredith Miles playing the mismatched lovers Chanos the macho man and femme fatale Babe. These four couple will in the matter of 80 minutes take you through a life cycle of love as couples, singles and mingles.
I cannot say enough how beautiful the movement of these eight dancers and their ensemble is to create in your mind a full storyline without a vocal script. Unlike such fellow blockbuster ‘Burn the Floor’ this show has a true storyline that can be followed and to which any audience member can identify with. Each of these characters is on their own very different from one another and together become couples we would see in any romance film or production.
It is a very simple staging in that it takes place in a nightclub and with a live band on stage it invites the audience to be right in the middle of the action and see for themselves how all plays out. And believe me you don’t want to miss a beat as the band is smoking hot and filled with some powerful musicians.
But this truly is a dance show and it would behoove me to tell you that you are in for a treat as Tharp has brought together extremely talented dancers who are astounding physical actors. From Fitzgeralds’ ‘slutty’ representation of Kate, Hanna’s smooth classic style of Sid, or Burrels’ technical strength as Hank, you cannot take your eyes off the action as you may miss the excitement. You do not want to miss a thing especially while watching, in my opinion, the strongest couple of Kelley and Vo as the new lovers Betsy and Marty. Their initial flirting being physically comic to becoming more sensual than friends is reminiscent of the awkward first time one falls for someone. Or to single one dancer out it would be Dibble’s drunk dance of Chanos with its spirited interpretation of that awkward feeling some of us have felt in our heyday.
This production may be short in time but filled from one end to the other with sights and sounds for all ages to enjoy and get lost in. It is an evening of reminiscing of past endeavors or prelude to what may come. Surrounded by the sounds of the classic crooner, Sinatra, you are in for an adventure that is sure to be a classic for generations to come.
Trying to add my spin on this show would be hard in that there truly is so many stories going on that this show is tough for me to do my usual ‘life, imitating art, imitating life’ part of my review that many of you have come to enjoy. However that doesn’t mean I can’t. This show is about one thing I stress to many of m friends, live life. ‘Life is too short to sweat the small stuff’ and ‘live life to its fullest’ are the two monikers I was told long ago that I try to live by. I must admit it took me hitting rock bottom several years ago to remind me of the importance of these two sayings. With the short time we have to keep pursuing someone who is not interested in us as Chanos does initially in the show we may miss out on our soul mate that could be standing right next to us. Or when we let loose too much and not care about our actions we may push away our closest friends. Our life is a journey of ups and downs that create who we are. If we stifle even a little bit of our self we compromise our own principle and become nothing but a pawn. Life your life, live it fully and don’t dwell on the little things.
See ‘Come Fly Away’ at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts January 31, 2012 – February 5, 2012.
Follow my adventures in entertainment in Southern California on Twitter @SCThrillsMarc.