Newsday (Nassau Edition) from Hempstead, New York on December 20, 2001 · 97
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Newsday (Nassau Edition) from Hempstead, New York · 97

Hempstead, New York
Issue Date:
Thursday, December 20, 2001
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Hula Music Butterflies and Fleet Feet Newsday Photo Bract Gilbert Elio! Feld delivers nontraditional holiday fare in the “NotCracker" a! the Joyce Theater BALLET TECH HOLIDAY MOTCMCKEn SEASON Artistic director Eliot Feld Program of choreography by Feld: “Papillon (1979) music by Jacques Offenbach “Coup de Couperin (2000) music by Francois Couperin and Marin Marais excerpt from ‘Half Time (1978) traditional music arranged by Morton Gould Seen Tuesday at the Joyce Theater Eighth Avenue and 19th Street Manhattan Repertory through Dec 30 By Sylviane Gold LIOT FELD IS nothing if not a contrarian While other ballet companies offer up snowflakes Christmas trees and Sugar Plum Fairies this time of year Feld’s Ballet Tech blithely delivers hula music and butterflies and brazenly christens it “Holiday NotCracker Season” The hula music arrives tonight when “Pacific Dances” has its world premiere It’s in the second of the two Ballet Tech programs that will be occupying the Joyce through Dec 30 This other one scheduled for mostly evening performances also includes Feld’s delightful interpretation of Irish dance tradition “The Jig Is Up” and his 1982 “Straw Hearts” to tum-of-the-century American composers The opening night program with the colorful butterflies of “Papillon” and the pastel hoop skirts and rose-colored tricorns of “Coup de Couperin” will mostly be running at matinees But the whole point of the “NotCracker” season is to be family-friendly and with curtains at 2 and 7 pm either choice will accommodate early bedtimes and shorter attention spans The youngsters in attendance at Tuesday’s opening night had no trouble staying awake The littlest ones were entranced by the green and fuzzy critters slithering up the aisles at the beginning and end of the fantastically insectivorous “Papillon” as well as by the monarch-patterned Mitza Zobenica and the twitchy black spiders in Wills Kim’s gorgeous costumes Older ones were swept away by the patterns and polish of the courtly “Coup de Couperin” with its elegant jumping and refined footwork And die professional dance-goers for whom “Papillon” and “Couperin” hold no more surprises were agog at Feld's newest addition to the male corps Wu-Kang Chen Unlike most of the Ballet Tech company which is drawn from the New York City public school begun by Feld in 1995 to train talented students for careers in ballet Chen is an import from Taiwan And when he bounded from the wings in the checked white tights and purple cravat of the butterfly collector in “Papillon” it was as if he had indeed flown in from some other country some other universe perhaps where a spare and sinuous line drawing can become flesh The role is meant to show off fleet feet and technical prowess and Ballet Tech has always had strong male dancers who could pull it off with elan But I’ve never seen it done with quite so much style and effortless clarity In “Coup de Couperin” Chen was part of the male quartet — Kickemil Concepcion Jason Jordan and Sean Scantle-bury were the others — whose legs scissor through the air as if it were the most natural thing in the world For Chen it may be The evening ended in an unbilled surprise: the brief “Battle Hymn of the Republic” sequence from Feld’s 1978 “Half Time” Stars stripes salutes — about some things even Eliot Feld is not contrary Sylviane Cold is a regular contributor to Newmday Waters’ ‘Hairspray’ Is Beginning to Gel ¥HE REHEARSAL HALLS of Raw Space on West 42nd Street were jammed with hundreds of hopefuls yearning to be a part of “Hairspray” the new musical based on the 1988 John Waters cult classic opening on Broadway in August 2002 But among the hunky guys and lissome babes trying out for secondary roles in this musical come- Sr set in 1963 Baltimore were some pleasantly ump women who had a fleshy leg up on the starring role of Tracy Tumblad Looking on approvingly at the hordes in crowded hallways was Waters the guru of bad taste himself (“Pink Flamingos” “Polyester”) who has been hired as a consultant to the musical directed by Jack 0’Brlea choreographed by Jmi Mitchell and written by Ton Meehan and Mark O’Donnell with songs by Marc Sbalaiaa and Scott Wlttann “I want to make sure that Tracy will be fat not just plump” said Waters of the lead character an outcast high school senior whose quirky sweetness wins her not only a following but also the attention of the handsome class Romeo “When was the last time you saw two fat girls as stars of a Broadway musical who also get the guy?” he asked The other "fat girl” in “Hairspray” will be played by Harvey Fierstein the Tony-winning actor and writer (“Torch Song Trilogy” “La Cage Aux Folles”) who dons drag for the role of Tracy’s mother Edna Tumblad memorably created by Divine the 250-pound transvestite star of many of Waters’ movies The screen role of Tracy made a star of Rick! Laka “She made people who might be hesitant to enter this strange world feel comfortable” said Waters Waters doesn’t mind that Lake became thinner as she became more successful “It’s probably better for her health” he said i i : J ll- ' 1 I y i ' ' But the one thing that certainly wont be thin in “Hairspray” are the hair styles “In 1963 it was mother-and-daughter beehives! What a' great time!” exclaimed Waters admiringly Odds and Ends Jolia Hands (“Urinetown”) has apparently taken over the direction from Johi Calrd (“Jane Eyre”) of “Dance of the Vampires” the new musical by Jin StsinnUM that recently postponed its Broadway date from spring to next fall A production spokesperson could not confirm the change Until further notice Nathan Lane will not be playing the Tuesday evening and Wednesday matinee performances in “The Producers” The star is still plagued with vocal problems and it is hoped the rest will help the healing process Michels Lowe’s “Smell of the Kill” directed by Chris Ashley (“Rocky Horror Show”) will open in March at the Helen Hayes Theatre The black comedy about three abused wives who have a chance at revenge was a hit at the Berkshire Festival in Massachusetts this summer but its three leads there — Kristen Johnston (The Women”) Clasdia Shear (“Dirty Blonde”) and Katie Finneran (“Noises Off") — may have to be recast as the trio is otherwise engaged Divas on Parade Barbara Cook the gold standard of Broadway and cabaret divas brings her “Mostly Sondheim” a concert of the great composer’s Broadway oeuvre to Lincoln Center for 14 concerts Sundays and Mondays beginning Dec 30 The official opening at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre is Jan 14 but don’t wait until then for tickets They’ll probablybe gone You can hear two vastly different renditions of “My Ship” the Kurt Weill classic around Manhattan these days as sung respectively by Andrea Marcovlccl and Christina Ebersole both of whom bring an old-fashioned glamour that attracts passionate coteries of fans Marcovicci who recently sang "My Ship" in the revival of Weill’s “Lady in the Dark” in Philadelphia holds forth at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel (59 W 44th St) through Jan 12 including a gala champagne fest on New Year’s Eve Ebersole will help New Yorkers welcome in 2002 at a black-tie five-course dinner concert at Arri’s (450 Park Ave S $250 a person) where she has been wowing audiences on her nights off from “42nd Street” She returns to the Manhattan bdite for three more Mondays — Jan 7 21 and 28 Book now as the reservations are going fast Another Tony winner Donna McKschnla will play Arci’s next month for 10 performances beginning Jan 3 This weekend at Arci’s it’s Baby Jana Dexter famous for her blues-and-smoky-rooms style (For reservations call 212-532-4370) Meanwhile Linda Eder who exudes the unaffected charm of her native Minnesota plays the Gershwin Theatre with a series of Christmas concerts from Dec 26 to 30 If you’re a couch potato you may want to just pick up her fabulous Christmas CD “Christmas Stays the Same” which die co-produced with husband Frank Wildhora or tune into Eder’s Christmas special on Bravo which airs Dec 23 and 25 Our Favorite Lines “Through the years we all will be together If the fates allow Hang a shining star upon the highest bough And have yourself a merry little Christmas now” — “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane from “Meet Me in St Louis” and sung on Linda Eder’s album “Christmas Stays the Same” j r Part 2 NEWSDAY THURSDAY DECEMBER 20 2001

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