Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 19, 2011

10 Cents a Dance

Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA
through August 28, 2011
by Walter A. Haggerty

If the musical gems of Rodgers and Hart, performed by a superbly talented cast of Broadway pros, in a virtually unending stream of nearly three dozen show-stoppers is your idea of a great evening at the theatre, then "10 Cents A Dance" is recommended.

Williamstown Theatre presents "10 Cents A Dance" in, what is reported to be, a pre-Broadway tryout. The concept for this production is credited to Tony Award-winning director John Doyle, who, according to an article in the program, "is uninterested in any attempt at illusionary naturalism." Consequently, he has engaged a stellar cast of six - one man and five women - each of whom is required to perform their own musical accompaniment on one or, preferably, several instruments.

This cast delivers, most especially leading man Malcolm Gets, who carries the heaviest burden of providing piano accompaniment throughout the entire evening, while occasionally having to provide expressive responses to lyrics serving as narrative. The five women cast members, portray Miss Jones, 1 through 5, the same woman at various stages of her life. So much for the plot - forget it! The important thing is the music. It's still Rodgers and Hart and it is uniformly great. The interpretations vary from happy to sad to frantic, but don't worry, there is much to enjoy.

In addition to Gets, the cast includes "A Chorus Line" legend, Donna McKechnie. Also featured are Diana DiMarzio, Lauren Molina, Jane Pfitsch, and Jessica Tyler Wright -- all previous cast members of earlier Doyle productions and each performing her "actor-musicianship" assignments admirably. Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Music Director, deserves special praise for capturing the 20s - 30s flavor of Broadway. Scott Pask, set designer, provides a complex multi-level set with a variety of playing levels that serve the performers effectively.

As to Doyle's signature treatment of having performers playing instruments while supposedly acting the role of a distinct character in a story, it is a novel approach, yet in  "10 Cents A Dance," it is somewhat a gimmick.

To theatergoers, go for the music!