Some Assembly Required

  • Women get thrown around a good deal in Swing!, but I wouldn't say they were being victimized; they and the men who toss, flip, and drape them seem to be sharing far too good a time for that. Recycling a lot of familiar material—this makes three current shows that use "Sing, Sing, Sing" for a climax—Swing! refeathers its old hats with new numbers and lyric touch-ups by a mélange of band and cast members, plus outside hands. Director-choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett, herself supervised by Jerry Zaks, rides herd on a covey of assistant choreographers, some visible onstage. If the jumbled credits suggest a hodgepodge, the result looks more like a happy collaboration. The dancing works through all the traditional moves, and some fancy variations, without ever seeming either mechanical or artily self-conscious; the singing, particularly Ann Hampton Callaway's and Laura Benanti's, has a classy individuality. For a dance show, the evening pays exceptionally strong heed to the sense and shape of its lyrics; when the soloists of Casey MacGill's band are dragged into the action, they perk up, enlivening their scenes as onstage musicians almost never do. Taylor-Corbett's podiatric crew never loses touch with swing dancing's dual function—as a competition between couples in acrobatic inventiveness, and as a sort of airborne representation of sexual intercourse. The new songs are mostly half-formed imitations of the great old ones and the stage is sometimes cluttered with dancers when we should be watching the vocalist, but overall Swing! has a fresh, piquant style that gives it both specialness and consistency. Other Broadway shows using old music don't cook like this. A lot of the sizzle comes from Harold Wheeler's saucy arrangements, a little from William Ivey Long's costumes, which are sometimes dramatic events in themselves, and the rest from the dancers—too many first-raters to list, but Beverly Durand and Aldrin Gonzalez made me gape with amazement most often.
    Vivienne Benesch and Adina Porter in Hurricane: Women in prison—or just chained to the idea?
    photo: Dixie Sheridan
    Vivienne Benesch and Adina Porter in Hurricane: Women in prison—or just chained to the idea?


    By Erin Cressida Wilson
    Classic Stage Company
    136 East 13th Street 212-677-4210
    Music and lyrics by various hands
    St. James Theatre
    Broadway and 44th Street 212-239-6200
    By Arthur Kopit
    Lucille Lortel Theatre
    121 Christopher Street 212-239-6200

  • Arthur Kopit's Y2K unfortunately arrived from the warehouse with its second half missing. But after you've unpacked Act One, you probably won't care enough to phone the manufacturer. Kopit's half-event has nothing to do with the millennium bug or even computer crime in general; it merely says that somebody who knows computers and is in love with your wife could cause you a lot of trouble. Unfortunately, the really scary point is that people who know can cause your computer and millions of others an awful lot of trouble without having any motivation at all. Kopit doesn't venture into such ominous and nebulous mattters. He adds a dab of would-be complexity by giving the couple whose lives get destroyed a small guilty secret each. There's also a buried neocon whimper: If people like these two weren't liberals who tolerated porn, the next generation wouldn't have spawned nastily amoral computer geeks. Bob Balaban directed smoothly, but it's tempting to read the looks of disaffection on the faces of both James Naughton and Patricia Kalember as commentary on the script.
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