Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 5, 2021

Review: Barrington Stage , A Crossing: A Dance Musical

Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, MA
through October 16, 2021
by Shera Cohen

Remember all those times when you choose to skip a play because was new? If it hasn't yet gotten the thumbs up from the critics and scuttle butt from past audiences, you've never heard of it or the names of anyone in the cast, how good can it be?

Photo by Daniel Rader
I urge you to take a risk on "A Crossing: A Dance Musical.” Opening night always brings
excited audiences full of anticipation. The icing on the cake was the play making its world premiere. For the good and for the bad, the timing of the presentation could not have been more opportune; this is a journey of a dozen ragtag men, women, and children, each trying desperately to make their exodus from Mexico to the United States.

With no spoken words, this "dance musical" could have easily been called "musical" or "opera". In any case, the lyrics of mixed English and Spanish played throughout. Each artist from the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company sang with beauty and meaning, primarily to the music of guitar and drums in the background. Although, most of the songs did sound alike. The quintet of master musicians was tucked away in the mountainous terrain setting.

While not a human character, per se, the scenic design by Beowulf Boritt spoke volumes. Giant moveable cardboard cutouts of several uneven precipices with a clock-like black 'n white circle in the rear gave the audience clarity of the characters' hardships and endurance. 

Director Joshua Bergasse's work was difficult, especially in one particularly lengthy scene. Bergasse, along with choreographer Alberto Lopez made the unreal, real. All onstage and backstage pulled off the actual "Crossing" of the river from Mexico to the US exquisitely. Twelve-foot-long colored ribbons were held at each end, swishing and rippling constantly. Without a word, spoken or sung, this excerpt made "A Crossing" worth the trip. A rope of garments created a make-shift unsteady line in order for the characters to make their journey to America. 

One character stood out as "a wow moment" or "TMI". Neither or either is correct. This occurred at what seemed a strange place in the story for an intermission because BSC's Executive Director specifically stated, "No intermission". I am guessing that a historically dressed ancient god named Quetzalcoati decided to put on a majestic one-man dance. An entire evening of Quetzalcoatis could have been a rockin' show. That was hardly what "A Crossing" was about.