featured photo

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home

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 the Hulk).

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, "Oy."

(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.)

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home