Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 4, 2019

REVIEW: Playhouse On Park, stop/time dance theater’s Reel to Real

Playhouse on Park, Hartford, CT
through April 7, 2019
by Sharon Smith

What’s more magical than the sense of anticipation that comes from a darkened movie theater? How about when that movie screen comes to life and engulfs the audience in the musical sights and sounds of a big Hollywood dance number? That’s what happens in stop/time dance theater’s Reel to Real, a loving tribute to American cinema.

This revue is directed and choreographed by POP co-founder Darlene Zoller, who keeps things moving along with homages to a variety of styles and genres . stop/time dance theater is POP’s resident dance company, and it is a pleasant surprise to discover that all the “good parts” of a musical can hold their own without extraneous things like plot and exposition.

Featuring a troupe of 19 talented dancers, 3 of whom pull double-duty as actors and singers, there actually is a slight framing device, built around the dreams of a sleeping movie-goer. Rick Fountain, a talented singer and tapper, starts things off with the more intimate “Mr. Cellophone” from Chicago and things only get bolder and brassier from there. Victoria Mooney has a wonderful singing voice, showcased nicely in “Good Morning Baltimore” and “A Million Dreams.” Amanda Forker stood out with her “When You’re Good to Mama”.

But, this show is really all about the dancing after all and each dancer is given a number or two in which to stand out and shine. There are pieces based on actual movie dance sequences, like “Step in Time” from Mary Poppins or merely influenced by them, like “Disco Star Wars.” All the dances, especially the outstanding tap productions, of which there are many, are delivered with precision style. There really is nothing like the entertaining power of a well-choreographed ensemble piece as it fills the stage with color, and movement and energy.

Sprinkled throughout are little theatrical touches like dinosaurs, droids and a bit of drag (Mrs. Doubtfire). Special mention has to made of Lisa Steier’s costuming, such as her choice of dress for some of the numbers, like “The Artist” or the unique leather styling of “Burlesque.”

Reel to Real is an extremely entertaining and well-produced evening of “show biz razzle dazzle,” that is bound to give even audience members with two left feet, an excuse to dance away happy.