Theater archives

House of Dance Shuffle-Hop-Steps Through Small-Town Dystopia


Lee has one day to prepare for the Teen Tap Road Show, but things aren’t going well at Martle’s House of Dance. Her stepfamily keeps texting they need the car, Brendan has shown up looking to make a scene, there’s not a costume worth its sequins anywhere, and a pale sun is already setting over the tour bus of her ambitions.

Presented by Richard Maxwell’s New York City Players through its American Playwrights Division, Tina Satter’s House of Dance shuffle-hop-steps through a small-town dystopia that fits Maxwell’s Players like white gloves on jazz hands, where the mundane meets the sublime in the most unexpected places.

It’s not that the cast (led by Jess Barbagallo as Lee and Jim Fletcher as Martle) taps particularly well (the notable exception is Paul Pontrelli, who plays the studio’s wicked accompanist). As a director, Satter builds humor with ironic flourishes as well as some nutty dance numbers and lets understatement challenge perception. But if we are such stuff as dreams are made on, it doesn’t matter that Lee or Brendan (Elizabeth DeMent) or any of them will never be the next Billy Elliot; the strange community that binds these misfits and buoys them somehow, impossibly, up is the real star of House of Dance.