Thursday, December 4, 2008

WLS Review: "Dance Dance Revolution"

Last night was the premiere of Les Freres Corbusier’s "Dance Dance Revolution" at Soho’s Ohio Theater in New York. The production stars AS THE WORLD TURNS' Van Hansis along with B. Brian Argotsinger, Greg Hildreth, Amelia McClain, Vayu O'Donnell, Devere Rogers, Ben Steinfeld and Ian Unterman.

The outrageous musical is set in the year 2068 in an Orwellian society where a dance prophet named Moonbeam Funk (O'Donnell) helps dancing youth gangs rebel against a fascist government.

Hansis plays Wiggles, a role he originated in Williamstown a few years ago along with some of the other leads. He described Wiggles as "a fun-loving, dumpster-diving, teenage renegade." That pretty much sums it up.

From the opening number, the cast dances and sings to songs like "Macho Duck" and "Shake Your Ass for Freedom." Hansis solos on "Shake Your Ass" which ends with him using a falsetto. He has stated in the past that he is not a singer so I was rather impressed considering. The music is not intended to rival the big Broadway numbers one might expect. Everything is played for laughs in this show and Hansis nails it all from the singing to the dancing to shining Moonbeam's silver gravity boots. He joked to me after the show that his falsetto is probably better than his regular singing voice. Kudos to the costumer for Hansis' futuristic costume and the other creative designs.

I don't want to give too much of the plot away or spoil the funniest moments, but the show was described as "loosely based on the wildly-popular video game, 'Dance Dance Revolution' is like Footloose set in the future—but kind of scarier, and with 40 really attractive, barely-clothed young actors and buckets of free beer."

I would say that is a fairly accurate description although the beer comment is a bit misleading. You receive a wrist band when you arrive and are entitled to a free beer which you can get as you walk in.

If there was any negative, and I'm hard pressed to find one, it would be that the musical doesn't really make you care about the the characters as much as I would expect. The relatively short show time flies by and is entertaining throughout but I can't say I honestly cared what happened to Moonbeam, although the revelation about his gravity boots and the trampoline dance-off was a wonderful way to wind down the story. But this is a rare show where the lack of story didn't really matter.

The Ohio Theater is small and a bit cramped so if you are attending, which I highly recommend, arrive 30 minutes early to get the seat you want (it's general admission). The production maximizes the use of the space with excellent results.

The show probably isn't for everyone but if you want to have a good time full of non-stop laughter, check it out.

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