Friday, April 27, 2007

Jolson & Company

Entertaining ‘JOLSON & COMPANY’ at JCC

Al Jolson, the subject of ‘JOLSON & COMPANY’ now being staged in a joint production of the Jewish Community Center and Cuyahoga Community College-East, was a very talented entertainer, who was also filled with rage and insecurities.

Asa Yoelson was born in Lithuania and came to the United States as a child. Under the name of Al Jolson he had a career that spanned from 1911 to 1940. Often referred to as “the world’s greatest entertainer,” he was known for his black-face makeup, exuberant gestures, operatic-style singing, whistling, and directly addressing his audience. His initial musical training was under the guidance of his father, a well-known New York Jewish cantor. The cantorial sound echoed through Jolson’s vocal chanting in many of his hits.

As youngsters Al and his brother were a minor hit on the vaudeville circuit. A personal rift between the brothers sent Jolie off on his own and resulted in a Broadway career which was unmatched for its length and popularity). One reviewer noted that Jolie had such an "electric" personality, along with the ability to make each member of the audience believe that he was singing only for them, that his audiences often literally “stopped the show” with prolonged applause.

Today, he is probably best remembered for his appearance in 1927 in the first successful movie “talkie", ‘THE JAZZ SINGER.’ In that movie Jolie performed the song "Mammy" in black face.

Jolson’s other hits included "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)", "Rock-A Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody", "Swanee" (songwriter George Gershwin's first success), "April Showers", "Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye", "California, Here I Come", "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along,” and "Sonny Boy."

He died at the age of 64 of a massive heart attack while playing cards. Appropriately, Jolson’s supposed last words, taken from one of his most famous songs, were "Boys, I'm going."

‘JOLSON & COMPANY’ is a scrapbook of Al Jolson’s life. It covers his youngest memories including the death of his mother, his career successes and failures, his marriages and divorces. It gives a glimpse of his talent, his egotism and his renowned temper.

The script, by Stephen Mo Hanan and Jay Berkow is problematic. The story telling centers on a radio show being narrated by Barry Gray (George Roth). Jolson steps in and out of the broadcast to sing and act out various phases of his personal life and career. The format is an obvious device which wears thin after a while and breaks the story line.

The transitions are weak and the writing often fails to create the needed emotional bridges. There are many pauses that result in a loss of audience attention. For example, when wife Ruby Keeler, who was supposed to perform at a charity event with Jolson, serves him with divorce papers and walks out, what should have been an emotional highlight, turns flat as Jolson takes an extended period of time to put on black face before he sings his signature, “Swanee.” The idea is good, but doesn’t work theatrically.

JCC’s production, under the direction of Fred Sternfeld, will entertain audiences, especially Jewish audiences. There are enough “Yiddish” allusions to capture the older members who attend JCC productions and know and love Jolson. On the other hand, cutting out some of the extraneous scenes and picking up the pace a little would make the well over 2-hour show, more compelling.

Don’t go to see ‘JOLSON AND COMPANY’ expecting to experience a reincarnation of Al Jolson. Mark Moritz, who plays Jolie, has a good singing voice, and tries hard to incorporate some of Jolson’s signature sounds and moves into his presentation, but he is much too static to become electrifying. He plants his feet, rather than bouncing around the stage. His face lacks the dynamic quality of Jolson’s unbridled stage presence. His sound is appealing, not mesmerizing. Mortiz makes for a very acceptable Jolson-light, but he is not Jolie!

Kristin Netzband, as the female member of the three-person cast, is appealing in multi roles. She is especially delightful as May West and on-target as Ruby Keeler. She sings extremely well and her dancing is excellent. JCC attendees will remember her as Evelyn Nesbit in the company’s production of ‘RAGTIME, THE MUSICAL.’

George Roth, as always, is on target in each of his characterizations. The Times Theatre Tribute Award winner changes voices and facial expressions and makes bodily adjustments to fit each of his nine characters.

Larry Goodpaster and his three piece “orchestra” efficiently back up the performance.

Capsule judgement: ‘JOLSON AND COMPANY’ will be a pleasant trip down memory lane for those who know and appreciate the musical sounds of Al Jolson.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Under-rehearsed ‘ROULETTE’ not up to par for Bang and Clatter

Bang and Clatter, which is northeast Ohio’s new kitsch theatre, is staging Paul Weitz’s black comedy, ‘ROULETTE.’ Originally, another show was supposed to be staged. That play was withdrawn when the production’s two leads were cast in a major motion picture and had to leave the cast. Going by the motto, “the show must go on,” ‘ROULETTE’ was quickly staged with the opening date pushed back a week.

Unfortunately, the limited rehearsal time shows in the B&C production. The theatre’s usual precision and clarity is missing. Instead, there are muffed lines, lack of clear character development, and a general uncertainty in the staging. Actors tripped going up a makeshift stairway with which they seemed not to have rehearsed. There were times when actors seemed uncertain as to which stage exit to use. Long pauses between scenes did nothing but accentuate the show’s haggard pacing.

Paul Weitz, the author of ‘ROULETTE’ is best known for his raunchy ‘AMERICAN PIE’ movie. He is also the coauthor of the films "ANTZ" and "ABOUT A BOY." Don’t go to see ‘ROULETTE’ expecting gags about bodily fluids, band camp, talking ants or teen angst. This may be funny, but it concerns much more serious stuff.

At the very start of the show, anyone who had a vision Weitz’s writing will realize that this is something quite different. Jon, who we learn is the husband and father of a very dysfunctional suburban family, enters, sits at a table, opens a brief case, extracts a gun, places one bullet in the chamber, spins the chamber, puts the gun to his head and pulls the trigger. There is a click, but no explosion. He smiles, puts the gun back into his brief case and exits. Ah, but the clue is laid that we may see this scene repeated!

In the course of the next two acts, we meet Jon’s wife Enid, who is having an affair with their neighbor, Steve, who is married to Virginia, who thinks she might like to be a nun. We also are introduced to Jon and Enid’s sex-driven, drug-using teenage daughter, Jenny and son Jock, who has more muscles than brains.

Reviews of the show’s off-Broadway run were mixed. The general trend was, “‘ROULETTE’ squanders its opportunity to have something to say by focusing on cartoonish situations. Without the je ne sais quoi that makes an impact on your emotions, the laughs leave you with a hollow feeling.”

It is difficult to evaluate the cast as they seemed so uncertain that it was impossible to ascertain who was throwing the wrong cues and who was dropping lines. None of the characterizations were truly on the mark.

The set was an impressive realistic kitchen. But due to a large table being placed at the very lip of the acting area, actors had difficulty maneuvering around the lower edge of the piece of furniture, making for some awkward movements.

Capsule judgment: ‘ROULETTE’ was not the quality production audiences have come to expect from The Bang and Clatter. It probably would have been wise to hold the opening even longer so the cast could have been better prepared.

Our Town

‘OUR TOWN’ gets a stylized rendition at CPT

I consider ‘OUR TOWN,’ which is now being produced at Cleveland Public Theatre, to be one of the three greatest symbolic American plays. It, along with ‘DEATH OF A SALESMAN’ and ‘LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT,’ forces the viewer to think of his or her relationship with community and family while asking the question, “What is the best way to live?”

Thornton Wilder, the author of ‘OUR TOWN’ is the product of being raised much of his life in Asia by his missionary parents and his classical training, which includes a period of time at Oberlin College. His writing reflects the finite details of the Asian striving for order and balance. His use of the Greek chorus, often personified in one person, is a reflection of his classical understandings. He strongly illustrates a “powerful belief in the human spirit.”

Wilder has a very clear vision in ‘OUR TOWN.’ He wants to create a universal quality that transcends far beyond the New England setting of the play in the early 1900s. He is very specific in his descriptions. He tells the longitude and the latitude of Grovers Corners, the supposed setting of the story. He describes specifically where the drug store and the churches and Main Street are. Yet, probing an atlas indicates that his geographic markings are off. The designates are not in New Hampshire. And the drug store, churches and Main Street aren’t there...they are figments of our imagination.

‘OUR TOWN’ broke from the traditions of realism when it opened in 1938. Wilder said that he took the approach because of dissatisfaction with the theatre of his time: “I began to feel that the theatre was not only inadequate, it was evasive." He did away with real objects, specifically stating in the stage directions that pantomime, ladders, chairs and tables be used, with no scenery, per se. He did this because, "Our claim, our hope, our despair are in the mind—not in things, not in 'scenery.”

As for the story, ‘OUR TOWN’ centers on character development that details the interactions between citizens of an everyday town from 1901 through 1913. Though the play mainly centers on the lives of George Gibbs, a doctor's son, and Emily Webb, the daughter of a newspaper editor, it really is about the lives all of the folks of any place.

CPT has heralded Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan’s concept of ‘OUR TOWN’ to be kitschy, a new interpretation. And, in many ways it is. The stage manager, who is a one-man chorus, is replaced by the entire cast being the chorus. George, instead of being the traditional teenager, is portrayed by a grizzled senior citizen. Rebecca, his sister is also played by a mature adult. Much of the movement is choreographed, including the tossing of chairs and repositioning of ladders that draw attention to their presence.

The major question that must be asked in Bobgan’s interpretation is whether it aids in developing the meaning of the playwright or is just affect for affect’s sake. As much as I enjoy, even encourage creativity on the stage and breaking out of the traditional box, I didn’t find Bobgan’s innovations making much of a difference. In fact, I found some of the developmental and casting techniques distracting, taking me off message.

I cannot perceive why George was portrayed by such an old man. In the emotionally charged drug store scene, which I consider to be one of the most beautiful and touching in modern theatre, I found the age differences between the characters made much of George’s awkwardness and youthful realizations unreal. Several other things were distracting. In that same drug store scene, the characters moved from being seated across from each other in the drug store to sitting away from each other and then with their backs to each other. It broke the intimacy of the moment. Why was this done? And, near the end of the play, after a day of rain, a mention is made that, “it is clearing up.” At this moment one of the characters, pokes a long rod against ribbons of material hung from the ceiling and snow begins to fall. The meaning is unclear. Often characters’ physical movements looked like kabuki movements, contrasting with the lines they were thinking. Again, I must ask, for what purpose? At times the actors moved as if they were robots. Why?

Many parts of the production were excellent. Allison Garrigan’s traditional white and mauve costumes worked beautifully. Chris Seibert was effervescent as Emily. Her “Oh earth, you’re too wonderful” speech was compelling. Sheffia Randall Dooley (Mrs. Webb), Steven Hoffman (Dr. Gibbs), Brian McNally (Wally), Elizabeth R. Wood (Mrs. Gibbs), Dennis Sullivan (Mr. Webb) and Rhoda Rosen (Rebecca) were all excellent.

The addition of underscoring music added nicely to setting the right tone for various scenes.

Capsule judgment: Raymond Bobgan’s stylization of ‘OUR TOWN’ did little to enhance a beautifully written script and, at times, distracted from the over-all effect. Creativity has its place in the theatre, but, when used it must enhance, not distract. I still love ‘OUR TOWN.’ Anyone who has not seen a production of the play, should. If you’ve seen the play before, Bobgan’s concept should encourage much discussion.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Somewhat passionless ‘PASSION’ at BECK

Choosing to do a Stephen Sondheim musical, as Beck Center has done in their present selection of ‘PASSION,’ is often an invitation for frustration. Unlike his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II (‘SOUND OF MUSIC,’ ‘OKLAHOMA,’ ‘THE KING AND I’), Sondheim doesn’t write easily singable music. Taking on Sondheim, means taking on complex polyharmonies, angular harmonies and intricate melodies. This means the show has to be cast with excellent voices and supported by a talented full orchestra.

Also, because Sondheim is meticulous in his character descriptions, both in dialogue and lyrics, and creates challenging dramatic roles, the director must also cast for acting talent and physical types.

‘PASSION,’ which is based on Ettore Scola's film ‘PASSIONE D'AMORE,’ is set in Italy in the mid-1800s. The story revolves around Fosca, a physically ugly and psychologically fragile woman, and her obsessive love for Giorgio, a handsome soldier. Giorgio, who loves and is bedding the married Clara, is initially repulsed by Fosca, but is kind to her. The kindness is misconstrued by Fosca, and her obsession becomes compulsive. The result is a play of passion, manipulation and physical and psychological illness.

According to Sondheim, ‘PASSION’ is about "how the force of somebody's feelings for you can crack you open, and how it is the life force in a deadened world."

The book is written by Mansfield, Ohio’s James Lapine. Much like other Sondheim Lapine collaborations (e.g., ‘SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE,’ “INTO THE WOODS’) dialogue is woven into the songs, thus creating an operetta-like vehicle.

‘PASSION’ opened on Broadway in 1994. Like many Sondheim shows, it was critically acclaimed, but failed to find popular appeal. The show ran only 280 performances, making it the shortest-running show ever to win the Tony Award for Best Musical.

Beck’s production is flawed. Victoria Bussert, the director of Beck’s ‘PASSION,’ has cast some excellent voices. But, unfortunately, some of her performers do not have the physical presence or acting skills to carry out the Sondheim burden. And, in spite of their playing effectively, Nancy Maier’s small orchestra doesn’t create the lush necessities of the music.

On the positive side, though she is much too physically attractive to portray the “ugly” Fosca, Sandra Simon has a glorious voice and acts the role with passion. She is believable in her obsession.

Jared Leal has an excellent singing voice but has neither the physical presence nor the acting skills to develop the complex Giorgio. This appears to be yet another of Bussert’s casting of former or present members of her Baldwin Wallace musical theatre program in non-school productions.

I greatly admire Ms. Bussert for the quality of her program, and the success of her students in the professional theatre world, but her casting of these young people in roles for which they may not be mature enough or suited for, has become a bane for some local theatres with which she has contact. There appears to be a mix-up between her professional and educational life. Leal, for example, played a role in a BW student production of ‘PASSION.’ Therefore, he plays a role when Bussert directs the show at Beck. Sorry, there are many local performers who better fit the role, but may not have been given the opportunity because of the BW pipeline.

Jodi Dominick, another BW graduate, has an excellent singing voice, but does not have the maturity nor the requisite beauty to portray Clara. Much of the supporting cast are also BW students or products.

Is this saying that Bussert should not use BW students and graduates in shows she produces off campus? That’s not what is intended. But, there is a line that should be drawn between the BW educational program and the outside world. They are not one in the same. If Ms. Bussert wants an outlet for her talented students maybe she should reinvent the Berea Summer Theatre and open an equity theatre that would allow her students, supported by local and imported professionals, to gain public exposure and professional experience in an appropriate setting. Many colleges have such summer theatre programs.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘PASSION’ continues Beck’s recent reputation for undertaking challenging scripts. Sondheim is not easy to produce. The Beck production, though acceptable, is light on passion, and falls short of being a compelling evening of theatre.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

All Shook Up

‘ALL SHOOK UP’ delights some and shakes up others at the Palace

At the conclusion of ‘ALL SHOOK UP,’ now on stage at the Palace Theatre, half of the audience was standing and cheering. The rest were sitting, looking at the standees as if they were out of their minds. One well-known local theatre performer commented, “That was charming.” Another said, “What in heck (word change to protect the conservative readers) were the producers thinking...that was awful!”

‘ALL SHOOK UP’ is writer Joe DiPietro’s attempt to bridge together a story set in 1955 and the songs of Elvis Presley. The story line is trite, the characters are caricatures, the dancing is stylized (often done as if the cast was in an emotional time warp), the songs are blended into the dialogue with a shoe-horn, and the total effect is kitsch.

Into a small midwestern town rides Chad! He’s on a motorcycle, wears skin tight jeans, clinging t-shirt, has a twitching and thrusting pelvis, sings like a mediocre Elvis, makes women faint and scream, and causes general hyper-testosterone chaos. Before he leaves, he falls in love with a sexy female museum director (Miss Sandra), who rejects him, and then with a guy (Ed), who is actually a girl (Natalie). Ms. Sandra falls for the guy (Ed) who is really a girl (Natalie), but then switches allegiances to Dennis, a nerdy future dentist, who is in love with the girl (Natalie) but not her alter-ego, the guy (Ed). Natalie’s father is in hot pursuit of Miss Sandra, but winds up with Sylvia, the Black owner of a bar whose daughter (Lorraine) is in love with Dean, the daughter of the town’s up tight, racist mayor, Matilda. Matilda, in turn is in love with.....okay, this could go on and on, but you get the idea. ‘WEST SIDE STORY’ this is not. It doesn’t even reach the literary level of the “other” Elvis musical, ‘BYE, BYE BIRDIE.’ But it is so ditzy, that it’s funny and lends itself to moaning over the idiocy.

Wedged into the plot are numerous rock ‘n roll mega hits, including “Jailhouse Rock (where the rocker finds himself because he lead the local town boys astray),” “Heartbreak Hotel” (in this case referring to the graveyard at the end of the road) and “One Night With You” (sung in all sorts of coupling situations). At one time or another almost the entire cast wears and warbles about their “Blue Suede Shoes.”

The touring company covers the extremes of talent and background. Susan Anton, a long time Broadway star, sings up a storm as Miss Sylvia, though her acting is paper thin. Her “There’s Always Me” stopped the show. She brought down the house with her one-liner describing the parochial nature of the play’ setting: “This town makes me miss Parma.”

Professional newcomer Joe Manddragona, who plays rocker Chad, is shorter than would be expected for the macho male lead. All the females tower over him (which may have been another of those unintentionally intentional deeds of the director). He makes up for his height with smoldering good looks, a mobile pelvis and a fairly good voice. His dancing is so down pat he almost looks like a robot and some of his lines are on the same emotional level.

Dennis Moench as nerdy Dennis, has the best voice in the cast and wins over the audience with a well-defined characterization (think Eugene in ‘GREASE’ and Hugo in ‘BYE BYE BIRDIE’). His “It Hurts Me” is poignantly tender.

Jannie Jones whales as Sylvia, the bar owner, though she goes off-key in spots. Tracee Beazer is perky and sings well as Sylvia’s daughter. Jenny Fellner is undistinguished in the roles of Natalie/Ed.

The ‘ALL SHOOK UP’ band rocks, sometimes too loudly, but that only enhances the over-all effect.

Director Christopher Ashley knows what he’s doing. Taking this material seriously would have highlighted the weaknesses of the script. By playing for exaggeration, creating caricatures and making the whole experience bigger than life he creates a living comic book. The results? The audience laughs through their moans and bewilderment.

Capsule judgment: ‘ALL SHOOK UP’ is the kind of show that audiences will love or hate. It’s going to depend on your mood and expectations. If you go in knowing there is a very slight story line (and even referring to it as a story line is an exaggeration), that is both unrealistic and obvious, and just let yourself get carried away by the over-the top performances, obvious choreography and transparent means used to hook the Elvis Presley fueled songs together, you’ll have a blast. If not, you’ll leave at intermission. “C’mon Everybody” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Let Yourself Go,” and you “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with ‘ALL SHOOK UP.’

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Review of the Reviewer's Reviews..Lorry Szabo

Your fan club is growing by leaps and bounds.

I do enjoy your reviews. The background information
you add is always so interesting and enlightening.


Lorry Szabo

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Tempest

Farce over substance: ‘THE TEMPEST’ at Great Lakes Theater Festival

“We are such stuff as dreams are made of.”

“THE TEMPEST,’ now being staged at Great Lakes Theatre Festival, is sometimes billed as Shakespeare’s last play. In fact, ‘HENRY VII’ and ‘TWO NOBLE KINSMEN’ were written later. Another misconception about the play is that it is a comedy. Modern editors have relabelled it as either a romance or a fantasy. To add to the interesting background of the script, when it was written it was basically ignored as a minor work. Today, however, critics and scholars consider it to be one of the Bard’s greatest works.

In contrast to many of Shakespeare’s plays, which make for excellent reading, ‘THE TEMPEST’ requires staging to develop its full effect. It is inherently theatrical since it contains invisible beings that the audience can see but the characters cannot and lends itself to farcical interludes that can’t be created on the page. It is multi-sensory theatre which includes storms, music, and sounds which are required to create its imagery.

Shakespeare, in his major plays, often asked, “What is a human being?” This is the theme of ‘THE TEMPEST.’

The play begins with a tempestuous storm at sea. Twelve years previously Prospero, the Duke of Milan, was usurped by his brother Antonio with the support of Alonso, King of Naples, and the king’s brother, Sebastian. But for the help of Alonso’s advisor, Gonzalo, he would have been killed with his only daughter Miranda. Gonzalo furnished them with the means to survive, including Prospero’s precious books, and cast them into the sea. They eventually landed on a remote island, once ruled by the witch Sycorax, but now inhabited by her only son, the malformed Caliban.

Upon his arrival Prospero released Ariel, a powerful spirit who had been enslaved by Sycorax. It is through the help of the “invisible” Ariel that Prospero, aware that a passing ship contains his brother and the co-conspirators, causes a storm and shipwrecks the vessel. As the play unfolds, love, plotting, drunkenness, a test of faith, new awarnesses and physical and psychological discovery take place. With a good production, it is Shakespeare at his finest.

Any director of ‘THE TEMPEST’ must make several decisions: How far is s/he going to go to take the fantasy? Is farce or comedy going to reign? Andrew May, directing his first play for GLFT, has decided to let loose all the effects, play for laughs, thus overshadowing the text.

As for the cast, Sara Bruner is delightful as Ariel, the airy Spirit. She moves well and develops a consistent character. Handsome David Gregory is on target as the naive love-controlled Ferdinand.

On the other hand, Aled Davies disappoints as Prospero. He displays two moods...quiet or yelling. He doesn’t build a compelling character. When we hear Prospero recite the epilogue, after laying down his wand, we should feel that all in the world is well. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

David Anthony Smith (Sebastian) yells almost every line. Dougfred Miller (Antonio) is often difficult to hear as he doesn’t project. Though they delighted the audience with their overdone actions, Jeffrey Hawkins and Lynn Robert Berg, are over the top as two drunken shipmates, substituting slapstick for concept. Pretty Laura Welsh screeches her way through the role of Miranda, daughter to Prospero.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: If you like farce carried to its max, startling special effects, and stress on visual effects over substance then you’ll like this production of ‘THE TEMPEST.’ It’s not a bad production, just one with a debatable interpretation and some questionable acting.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Groundworks 3/07

GROUNDWORKS dances and Shimotakahara gets award

David Shimotakahara, artistic director of GroundWorks Dancetheater, is this year’s recipient of OhioDance’s award for outstanding contribution to the advancement of the art form. According to the executive director of Ohio Dance, a statewide service organization, “David was chosen to receive the award because of his innovative choreography, his many years of dedicated work in dance and dance art and his knowledge, experience and creativity.”

Those who have been attending GroundWorks’ performances, are aware of the reach for excellence that Shimotakahara inspires in his dancers and the creativity of his choreography.

This demand for perfection is both a boon and a bane to the company. The dancers, who have worked so long and so well together, tend to respond best to Shimotakahara’s precise choreography. With few exceptions, when turned over to others, though they are still excellent, they generally are not as proficient. This, in part, was the case at the company’s latest performance as part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s Danceworks ‘07.

In ‘HURRICANE HEART,’ a world premiere choreographed by Kelly Garfield, the dancers were not up to their usual level of physical control. However, the body positions often were not easily held and sometimes did not meld well from move to move. The units which made up the story, which was supposedly a hero’s journey that is never certain but not without hope, failed to cohesively develop the theme. A creative use of a rope to represent doorways and binding a person or people, was quite inventive. Overall, the piece lacked the company’s usual precision and clarity.

‘NANO,’ a David Shimotakahara choreographed world premiere, was more to the company’s image. Each movement perfectly fit Gustavo Aguilar’s music. Aguilar became part of the dance ensemble as he flowed from a snare drum center stage, to a stage right snare, to stage left drum and then back to the original instrument. Though overly long, it was fascinating to watch Aguilar use various implements to create the sounds and see how Shimotakahara had melded the music and the movements into a single concept to parallel each of the drummer’s textures and qualities.

‘THROUGH THE LENS’ has rightly been incorporated into the company’s repertoire. Art Bridgman and Myran Packer’s piece, which premiered at Trinity Cathedral late last year, is a break-through concept. As I stated the first time I reviewed it, “Almost defying description, the piece was performed in front of and behind a massive red opaque curtain. The dancers dove and rolled under the material, danced behind the screen, displaying configurations in varying degrees of large and small shadows, as well as realistically appearing before the curtain.” I ended that review with “This was a ‘WOW’ presentation.” If anything, the piece was even better this time as a second screen, this time blue, was added to further enhance the visual images and effects.

Groundworks says goodbye to dancer Jennifer Lott and her husband Ryan as they depart for London. Ryan is a creative modern composer whose music has been used by not only Groundworks, but other local dance companies. Good luck in their adventure.

Capsule judgement: Groundworks remains one of the top dance companies in the area and deserves the adulation it is receiving.