Greetings Theater Lovers,
This month I saw three theatrical
performances: the amazing
Noche Flamenca; the misguided Elvis
People; and a stunning preview performance
First Noche Flamenca is an
evening of stunning flamenco dancing that takes
place on a bare stage populated only by onstage
musicians and dancers. The dancing is very beautiful,
performed by dancers with jaded wordly attitudes.
They seemingly dance in competition with each other,
but it is a competition that appears to have gone
on for ages. The mood is very sexy and sensual.
The viewer is quickly transported to some magical
village in Spain where dancers enter the village
square and dance for their own enjoyment on a weekend
night. It is similar to the mood set by Susan Stroman's
Contact by the "girl in the yellow
The artistic director of Noche Flamenca
is Martin Santangelo. The show stars: Soledad Barrio
(Dancer); Alejandro Granados (Dancer); Alfonso Losa
Lopez (Dancer); Vanesa Coloma (Dancer); Elena Martin
(Dancer); Manuel Gago (Singer); Jose Anillo Salazar
(Singer); Miguel Perez (Guitarist); and Jose Valle
Fajardo, "Chuscales" (Guitarist).
Noche Flamenca plays at the
Theater 80 (80 St. Mark's Place) from June 6, 2007
until July 29, 2007, Tickets are $55 at ovationtix.com.
For more information, lot onto nocheflamenca.com.
Photo Credit Carol Rosegg
Then it was
on to Elvis People at the scrumptious New
York Stages at 340 West 50th Street. The show's
tag line is "9 out of 10 of us are Elvis
People: Could you be one?"
Well this show was the proverbial
dog that just won't hunt. The play opened on June
21st and closed quickly thereafter on June 23rd.
I am always fascinated when "bad plays happen
to good people." You walk out of some plays
(The Drowning Crow?) saying, "How
could they have not seen this coming."
Playwright Doug Grissom undertook what must have
appeared to be an interesting and fun goal - telling
the story of the many people who LOVE Elvis Presley.
And Grissom and director Henry Wishcamper got some
of it right. When we entered the auditorium, we
saw the stage with its stunning minimalistic set
(by Cameron Anderson). There was a wall of white
vinyl records on the back of the stage and racks
of campy Elvis suits and 1950's sherbet colored
shirt dresses hanging from racks on the side stage
walls. And the program was filled with a song list
of Elvis songs.
But the play itself was comprised
of monologues and small scenes that never fully
engaged the audience of what appeared to be (at
my preview audience) a large group of Elvis fans.
The script had a flat "paint by numbers feel."
It seemed like the playwright had come up with the
idea to do an "Elvis" play and then made
an outline of possible people who were affected
by Elvis Presley and then he wrote the play with
never any true gut inspiration. And I never truly
felt that any of the actors (with the exception
of the actor who played the Vietnam vet) truly got
inside their characters. I just did not believe
And there were other oddities. There
was one skit about some grave robbers who decide
to steal Elvis' body, but there was no announcement
or skit about the huge uproar that occurred when
Elvis died. We were just to assume that we had passed
that milestone becuase this new skit was about grave
robbers so of course, there had to be a corpse.
And for some reason, the director chose to show
slides on the white vinyl-looking wall at the back
of the stage, but these slides were of seemingly
random fifties' families and they had no discernible
relation to the show.
And there was the scale and setting
problem. New World Stages is a beautiful Off Broadway
house. The lobbies are huge caverns filled with
pop art and the theaters themselves (with their
"cigarette girls" selling candy) have
a minimalistic campy mood that matched the set design
for Elvis People. This show had a set and
a theater that demanded a much larger play; the
monologues and skits that we were served were simply
overwhelmed by the size of the setting.
And Elvis himself was bigger than
life and there is a huge world of camp out there
to be mined. There is the food (fried peanut butter
sandwiches anyone?), the glitter and glam clothes
(spandex with spangles!); the women (I had a friend
who had herself delivered to Elvis' home in a crate),
the mansion (filled with Montgomery Ward furniture);
and of course the music. Elvis was the Brad Pitt
of the fifties and sixties and in his later years
he was the ultimate drag queen. And Elvis deserves
a play that is as big as he was. After all, he was
No one in the creative team for Elvis
People needs to be blamed for the failure of
the play, except for the possible blame for losing
what must have been close to $100,000 (someone must
want their money back) by opening big on Off Broadway
instead of some small theater in the hinterlands.
Plays are like recipes, you have to make them before
you can see what you have. And I am sure that this
play turned out to be not at at all what the creative
team thought they "had." Their souffle
simply failed to rise.
Elvis People starred: Jordan
Gelber, Jenny Maguire, David McCann, Nick Newell,
Nell Page and Ed Sala. Theresa Squire designed some
fun period costumes.
Kerry Butler in Xanadu
Then I saw a preview show of Xanadu
at the Helen Hayes Theater at 240 West 44th Street.
Now this play opens on July 10, 2007 so I CAN'T
tell you anything about it because I review plays
and I know the rules (NO REVIEWS UNTIL AFTER OPENING
NIGHT). But as soon as I got home I called all my
musical loving friends and told them to drop everything
and buy NOW before it opens and the reviews are
out and they may not be able to get tickets. And
if you want to know more, check back on July 10th,
and I will tell you why. \
July 13, 2007: See
Frank J. Avella's Review
Tickets to Xanadu
are Tickets $51.25-$111.25 at www.telecharge.com.
For more information. http://xanaduonbroadway.com/index2.html