#5. ‘Dances with the Stars’ and ‘So You Say You Can Dance’ have resurrected the Lawrence Welk ballroom dancing fascination. Every Fred and Ginger wannabee sashays into the spotlight hoping to twirl their way to fame. We watch the fancy waltzing wishing weddings, nightclubs, or even living rooms prompted such elegant twirling. The movement transfixes as the lost art of courtship. In 2012, we’ve got the “Makin‘ Whoopee” down but we don’t always “Face the Music and Dance.”
For a two week limited engagement, Broadway in Chicago presents COME FLY AWAY, A New Musical. Set in a nightclub, couples flirt with their feet. The wooing goes from pirouette preening to seductive stripping. In between, four main couples try to find love on the dance floor. A bartender meets a cute young thing. A dysfunctional couple work through philandering. The seasoned dude pursues the blonde chick. And the club drunk picks up a hot little number. There are no words. Only music and dancing! Serenading the romances, the legendary Frank Sinatra once again croons with the orchestra. COME FLY AWAY soars as a classic charmer!
Tony Award-winner Twyla Tharp conceived, choreographed and directed this time-stopping tribute to another era. Hooking-up-at-last-call has never looked so sophisticated. Tharp establishes a timeless sophistication with Sinatra’s distinctly delectable stylings. Old favorites like “Luck be a Lady Tonight” mingle in with lesser known “Saturday is the loneliest night of the week.” Old Blue Eyes haunts the theatre with a 20+ song solo cabaret. Sinatra’s actual singing voice is accompanied by a live orchestra. Technology brings The Chairman to life. It’s an interesting premise for Tharp to choreograph. Sinatra’s reincarnation aside, COME FLY AWAY is really about the dancing. This ensemble showcases amazing athleticism with old fashion twirling. Sure, there is a lot of gliding across the floor but the memorable moments are the ladies being thrown across the stage. In perfectly synchronized movement, a woman is flung into the arms of another man. It’s impressive. It’s a lot sexy and a little disconcerting. Is this guy going to catch her? Sometimes, it’s the gal throwing herself at the man… at racing speed. Women are caught by the waist, by the foot, or by the crotch. The actions look spontaneously emotional. But the completed feat proves to be professionally timed. WOW! Traditional waltzing meets acrobatics with a side of break dancing. Clubbing should be this kind of spectacle. These couplings are a lovefest!
If COME FLY AWAY was a reality show, I would champion the dysfunctional couple as the winners. All the pairs had stunning visual moments. But Ashley Blair Fitzgerald and Anthony Burrell pulled my attention because of their fiery physicality. Their unified movements were fantastically soulful and sometimes soulless. Gasp-worthy and smoldering!
The only thing missing in this dance-palooza was Sinatra’s “My Kind of Town.” ‘If I can make it there I can make it anywhere...’ Really, that’s your finale in Chicago? Luckily, the Second City is known for its humor!
New to Chicago theatre, Maria describes it with ‘sensual, dynamic, invigorating.’
Production photograph courtesy of Joan Marcus.
Running Time: Eighty minutes with no intermission
At Bank of America, 18 W. Monroe
Conceived, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp
January 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 22nd at 7:30pm
January 14th, 15th, 18th, 21st, 22nd at 2pm
January 14th, 21st at 8pm
Buy Tickets at www.broadwayinchicago.com