Archive for tap

Theater review for LA Weekly – “Dames at Sea” at the Colony

Production photo by Michael Lamont.

Gentle readers, this week’s theater review for the LA Weekly is of the fun and frothy tap-musical parody Dames at Sea, currently running at the Colony Theater in Burbank.

Click here to go to the LA Weekly’s page with my review of Dames at Sea, and then scroll down a bit to find it.

 

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You can just read it here!!

 

Happy reading!

Dames at Sea

Frothy nonsense involving a diva, an irascible stage director, a handful of plucky chorines and two handsome sailors, Dames at Sea is a peachy-keen tap musical. First staged in the late 60s, the sweet and mildly racy show sends-up the lavish 1930s Busby Berkeley-style movie musicals where an understudy steps into a lead role on Broadway gaining instant stardom. The inside joke is that the parody is achieved with a mere cast of six, a tiny stage and two pianos and percussion (performing off stage). You can only imagine the frantic quick changes going on backstage as the performers switch characters and costumes.

Fresh off the bus from Centerville, bright-eyed cutie-pie Ruby (Tessa Grady) falls in love, has her heart broken, regains love and debuts in a (hilariously relocated) Broadway musical, in a whirlwind 24 hours. Sixteen pretty songs include the forlorn “Raining in my Heart.” While the tapping could have been crisper, everyone is in fine voice.

 

Dames at Sea

Book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, music by Jim Wise.

Playing Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through May 13.

Colony Theatre

555 N. Third St.,

Burbank

818-558-7000

 

 

Retro and charming — The Artist

Smarmy, charming Jean Dujardin perfectly embodies the persona of a charismatic silent movie star, playing George Valentin in writer-director Michel Hazanavicius’ audacious silent black and white movie The Artist. It’s a delightful throwback to the age of silent pictures, set in Hollywood circa 1927. Convinced of his enduring fame and popularity, our cocky hero Valentin scoffs at the arrival of a new-fangled invention that will catapult movies from silent to ‘talkies’. Unfortunately for him, his tough, cigar-chewing studio chief Zimmer, played by John Goodman, is well aware of the changing fancies of the fickle public. Zimmer and serves up a whole new smorgasbord of fresh-faced stars to go with his new sound-enhanced movies and that menu does not include Valentin.

Hazanavicius casts his adorable wife Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller, a perky young dancer whose star is rapidly on the rise. As her fortunes improve, Valentin’s plummet and he swiftly fades into oblivion. But she holds a torch for the dashing fellow – will they ever find true love?

Hazanavicius’ sweet movie is slight on storyline, never bothering to explain why Valentin’s wife is so bitter, why their marriage sours… It also never bothers to put any real impediments in the way of Valentin and Peppy’s longing romance.

Its strengths lie in its faithful replication of the best elements of those funny old silent movies, cramming his tale chock full of melodrama, wistful in-camera trompe l’oeil visual effects, slapstick, blisteringly fast dance and tap routines and a lovable Jack Russell terrier who performs tricks on command.

Best of all, Hazanavicius eschews the use of grating and clanging piano accompaniment, instead scoring his modern silent movie with jazz songs and even some recognizable fragments of scores from famous movies, such as Bernard Hermann’s masterful theme from Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

 

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The Artist opens in limited release in L.A. cinemas later this month. Check your local listings.