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Sunday, 04 April 2010 11:54

Broadway Review: COME FLY AWAY

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Keith Roberts and Karine Plantadit in Come Fly Away
Keith Roberts and Karine Plantadit in Come Fly Away
Photo: Joan Marcus
Twyla Tharp has teamed up with the vocals of Frank Sinatra to bring you the new dance musical Come Fly Away.  The show utilizes Sinatra's original vocal tracks combined with a live band, a team of talented and accomplished dancers and Twyla Tharp to pull it all together.  Despite all the amazing talent on display, the entire piece is so loosely tied together that the evening never quite coalesces into one cogent piece.

Ms. Tharp is quickly becoming associated with a specific type of Broadway show that brings the music of famous musicians to life on stage.  She started with the music of Billy Joel for the hugely succesful Movin' Out and followed that with The Times They Are A-Changin' using the music of Bob Dylan.  The latter was not a success. 

Come Fly Away takes place in a deco-styled nightclub minimally and tastefully designed by James Youmans.  It follows four couples as they interpret through dance a series of courtships that range from goofy and charming to hard and sadistic. 

Ms. Tharp's choreography is passionate and inventive.  Mr. Sinatra's vocals work beautifully with the 19-piece band.  The band gives an added dimension to the music that you wouldn't normally get with recorded music.  A female vocalist, Hilary Gardner takes a couple of songs on solo and does one or two duets with Sinatra.

Charlie Neshyba-Hodges in Come Fly Away

Charlie Nashyba-Hodges in Come Fly Away
Photo: Joan Marcus

One of the musical's problems is it's hard to keep a handle on which character is which.  I'm glad to say this does not apply to Charlie Neshyba-Hodges as Marty and Laura Mead as Betsy.  They are a love-sick waiter at the club and his "deer in the headlights" love interest.  Throughout the course of a single evening they go from a young love-struck couple, to a couple distanced by Marty's premonition of being trapped by marriage and a baby, to the happy till-death-do-us-part ending.  Marty and Betsy are the comedic duo of this musical.  This  includes leaps, flips, awkward dancing (that's perfectly choreographed) and yes, taking his pants off.  They strut their stuff with "Let's Fall in Love" and "You Make Me Feel So Young." 

With perhaps the hottest number of the night, Karine Plantadit and Keith Roberts have a bruising row of it with "That's Life," as the couple aggressively throws each other around the stage in a most spectacular fashion.  Each leaves the stage sated and no doubt yearning for a cigarette. 

The award for "best cover up of a wardrobe malfunction with the sheer mastery of craft" goes to John Selya who had to perform much of the first act with a rip in the seat of his pants.  Just as I was marveling that the men don't split their pants with all the movement, voila, we learn they otherwise.  Selya is paired with the confident Holley Farmer for "I've Got a Crush On You" and "Teach Me Tonight."  Selya does a stunning job with the mournful "September of My Years."  Matthew Stockwell Dibble, formerly with the Royal Ballet and the kinetic Rika Okamoto tear it up with "Yes Sir, That's My Baby."  In addition to our four couples there is a group of of six dancers in the ensemble, each talented in their own right. 

This show has much going for it.  It will appeal to Sinatra fans and dance fans but doesn't quite hold up to the light of day when all the pieces are assembled.  Thankfully, the entire cast performs with a fluidity, precision and passion that helps save this evening.

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View full production credits at the Internet Broadway Database.

Last modified on Friday, 23 July 2010 13:52