Sunday, July 28, 2002

"Movin' Out"

Friday night we saw "Movin' Out", a musical using 24 Billy Joel songs. It was choreographed by Twyla Tharp. It's doing it's pre-Broadway run in Chicago. It opens on Broadway in October, I believe.

It wasn't really what I expected. It's not a traditional musical, it's more of an interpretive dance. First, there is no real dialog, only song lyrics. Second, there's no orchestra pit with orchestra-style music. There is a rock band on a platform on the stage. A traditional rock band with drum kits and electric guitars, and the lead singer who plays the piano (how Billy Joel-esque). This leads to the third point: The dancers don't sing. The lead singer in the bad sings. The dancers only dance. No talking, no singing, no real acting. Just dancing. Thus, out of all the musicals I have seen, this by far had the best dancing. And the best dancer of all, in my opinion, was the dancer who plays Tony, the main character. He was great! Another thing I liked about it was that for 2 songs one dancer daned on pointe. I always thought it would be cool to see a ponte dancer dancing to rock music. It was so cool!

The music was great. A wide range of Billy Joel songs were used, including classical pieces. One thing I was concerned about before seeing it was that the songs would change from being rock songs to showtunes. That was done for the musical "Footloose". From the clips that I saw, it seemed like they took the rock songs from the movie and made them into showtunes. It didn't work for me. But in "Movin' Out" the songs remained rocks songs. Most of the songs remained true to how Billy Joel did them, except for the excerpt of "We Didn't Start the Fire", which sounded like a cover version by Marilyn Manson. It sounded cool, though.

The basic premise is that Billy Joel songs tell the stories of people like Brenda, Eddie, Tony, etc., characters from his songs. It's easy to tell who some of the characters are in the beginning because Tony and James wear jackets with their names on them. It's obvious who Brenda and Eddie are. However, since there is no dialog, it is sometimes difficult to tell what exactly is happening with the story. We didn't get Playbills until intermission. It would have been nice to have them earlier because there were little synopses of the acts. It would have been beneficial to read that before Act 1 started. To me it seemed more like a view of the events of a generation, not stories with specific characters. The second act was a bit better. It was a little easier to tell what was happening to who. But the ending was a bit difficult to understand.

But overall it was good. Even if you don't follow the story well, the music and dancing and choreography is enough to make it a worthwhile show to see.

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