note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
If dance is your bag, then you’ll get a kick out of CONTACT at the North Shore Music Theatre (through June 29th). Susan Stroman’s choreography (with a whisper of dialogue by John Weidman) is hip and theatrical, making the three separate ballets more than just dance.
The first piece takes a naughty peak behind the canvas at Fragonard’s l8th century portrait of a free spirited lady (Ariel Shepley) on a swing. As the painting comes to vibrant life, we eavesdrop on the balance of sexual power at play. Stefan Grappelli’s cheeky, contemporary violin makes you think more of a country hoedown than French country 1768, adding to the sexy sizzle.
The second, a hilarious romp called “Did You Move?” lets a harried housewife (Sally Mae Dunn) act out or rather dance out, her inner desires. How can she not move, with Grieg’s erotic “Anitra’s Dance” filling her ears? How can she not waltz when Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” beckons her? Everyone gets into the act, including a handsome headwaiter (Matt Rivera) who caresses her from under a table.
The gem of the evening is the third dance, a choreographed vignette about a desperately unhappy man (Jarrod Emick) who is starving for real CONTACT. Once he spies the gorgeous woman in the yellow dress (Naomi Hubert), he will try anything to connect with her. The music moves from the pop innocence of Bobby Darren and Dion to Robert Palmer’s ultra-sophisticated “Simply Irresistible” and we’re hooked, grooving in our seats, tapping our feet to the control of the rhythm until Van Morrison’s “Moondance” sets us free. Tome Cousin recreates Stroman’s compelling choreography so deftly, you really don’t mind the silly ending you saw coming a mile away.