In a run embracing the April 15 deadline, Hi Everybody!, Tere O’Connor’s biting exposé of our tax system, medical ethics, and homophobia, comes to Dance Theater Workshop for three weeks starting Thursday. The hourlong, Bessie-winning dance-play premiered last spring at the Kitchen; most of the all-star cast returns, supplemented by Nancy Bannon, a petite powerhouse known for her work with Doug Varone.
Hi Everybody! juxtaposes dance with spoken text. “It’s the most difficult work I’ve ever done,” says Rob Besserer, the 49-year-old standout (at six feet four) who has performed with Baryshnikov, Karole Armitage, Lar Lubovitch, and the Limón company, and also tends gardens on Manhattan rooftops. “I’ve never had to concentrate like this.”
Besserer, who serves as president of O’Connor’s board of directors (“It’s how I got this job”), thinks he first met O’Connor in Maggie Black’s ballet class: “Tere was a great dancer and we got to be friends. I did a couple of tours with him in the 1980s. Then, his work was very tight choreographically and deadly serious. The energy is still the same, but it’s much more exploded now. A friend says he’s like the Paul Klee of modern dance.
“Tere trained as an actor. I think he was really interested in writing a play. Hi Everybody! combines the choreography and playwriting. He very naturally struck that subtle point of pathos. He’s extremely funny and yet is grounded in a deep sadness. There were no scripts. He makes it on the hoof. Sadness is a general theme of his. There was one piece he made at St. Mark’s called The Organization of Sadness. Well, it’s a worldwide thing, sadness. Something we all have. It’s real life.”