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vancouverplays

 

preview imageMOVIN’ OUT
by Twyla Tharp, based on the songs of Billy Joel
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Dec. 4-9
$55-$85
604-280-3311 or www.ticketmaster.ca

This is an absolutely spectacular show, in town on tour from New York for this week only.  It features great music and choreography, and exciting dancing from beautiful athletic, hard-bodied young dancers.

Legendary American choreographer Twyla Tharp has created a rather sketchy storyline on which to build this piece of dance theatre without any words but the lyrics of Billy Joel, but it hardly matters. 

Five young people—Eddie, Brenda and Tony, Judy and James—grow up together on Long Island in the 1960s.  Brenda and Tony break up, Judy and James get engaged.

Along comes Vietnam and the boys go off to war.  James doesn’t come back. Eddie does but he’s a wreck and becomes a druggy.  But the survivors all survive.

High above the stage a piano man (the superb Kyle Martin the night I saw it) plays and sings 20+ great Billy Joel songs, accompanied by a tight 7-piece band that also provides back-up vocals.  That leaves the dancers below to dance the story to Movin’ Out, Angry Young Man, Captain Jack, Only the Good Die Young and the rest. I had forgotten how many glorious tunes he’s written, with really smart, evocative lyrics.

I loved the dancing.  It’s all muscular, energetic jazz ballet, except for Judy, who dances on pointe in places.  Understudy Laura Mead danced the role beautifully on Thursday.  Andrew Pirozzi did the most spectacular work as Eddie, especially in a druggy nightmare sequence and in the joyous reconciliation scene near the end. The other principals were excellent and so was the chorus. 

There are Saturday and Sunday night shows and a Sunday matinee still to come. See it if you can.

Jerry Wasserman