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Flash Review 2, 5-17:
I am Not Seduced
Michael Doesn't Know Who He is, Zioe Wants to Sing like a Bird,
Andrew Wants to Hold his Lover in His Arms, T. Wants to Start a
Whole New Life, and I Want to Run Screaming into the Oncoming Traffic
on East 71st Street
By Ben Munisteri
Copyright 2000 Ben Munisteri
Chet Walker, choreographer
for the Broadway show "Fosse," has staged a new production -- "Seduction"
-- at Marymount College, in Manhattan. During the premiere last
night, my prevailing thoughts were on just how I was going to write
about it. At least a dozen opening sentences went through my head
as I watched the show. The truth is modern dance folk don't know
from Broadway dancers, and vice versa. Our worlds are concerned
with completely different things, and, like DC and Marvel comic
superheroes, our universes almost never co-exist (except that parts
of "Seduction" were workshopped at Jacob's Pillow -- Superman meets
Objecting to "Seduction"'s
shimmies, hip swivels, character shoes, and mock-sexy mugging (not
to mention a cast bio that boasts the touring co. of "Victor/Victoria"
starring Toni Tennille) would be like objecting to bare feet in
a modern dance concert. And since I have a fairly thorough knowledge
of musical theater, I believe I can leave my own Modern bias out
of this Flash Review. Having promised that, I can safely say this
was a very mediocre show at best.
"Seduction" is billed
as "dance opera," whose emphasis is on dance and song. Really it
is weak entertainment in the form of a musical revue. It struggles
to put forth a vague narrative -- a "story" about several old friends
who, after years estranged, arrange a reunion (kind of like "The
Big Chill" or "Steven King's It," minus the death). The "story"
centers around the character Michael, who sings most of the solos.
(All the characters share the same first name as the actors playing
them, a device most famously used in Michael Bennett's workshop
version of "A Chorus Line.") The music and lyrics, by Paul Katz,
are occasionally clever and always pleasing to the ear, but they
are also pretty doggerel.
Each of the nine performers
sings a solo, with varying degrees of vocal mastery. There was one
very nice quartet, "Listen," that featured some fine harmony and
strong singing. Each also dances a solo or two. I have often admired
show dancers for their "chops" -- high legs, multiple turns, buoyant
jumps. What surprised me was how uninspired this choreography and
these performances were. In addition to their looking phony, stiff,
and forced, I didn't see any great virtuosity or skill from these
Broadway veterans. The choreography, both solos and group numbers,
also lacked creativity and design. It was almost as if the dancers
were trying to compensate for their underdeveloped choreography
by "selling" it with histrionic facial expressions and attitudes.
There were very strange
half-suggestions at the characters' relationships with each other,
but by the end we still don't know who they are or what's going
on. The lyrics provide a plethora of words with the total absence
of any meaning. Characters sing 13 songs about vagaries. Michael
doesn't know who he is, Zioe wants to sing like a bird, Andrew wants
to hold his lover in his arms, T. wants to start a whole new life,
and I want to run screaming into the oncoming traffic on East 71st
Street. And which of these characters gets seduced in "Seduction"?
Well, I did notice that T. and Jonathan (two men) leave the reunion
together; that was kind of interesting. But in the end Michael reprises
his song about self-knowledge, this time seemingly having the answer
because "love is all around" him. Say what?
Or, as PBI would say,
(Editor's note: For more
info on Ben Munisteri, go to http://www.munisteri.com/.
For more info on the touring co. of "Victor/Victoria" starring Toni
Tennille, go to http://www.vcnet.com/moonlight/vvdefaultpg22.htm.)
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