Thursday, November 11, 2010

Theater feature: Caldwell makes a virtue of musical by bringing back 'Vices'

Albert Cattafi and Holly Shunkey in Vices:‭ ‬A Love Story.

By Hap Erstein

Belying the proverb about opportunity only knocking once,‭ ‬here comes another chance to see the steamy,‭ ‬quirky,‭ ‬Carbonell-award-winning dance musical‭ ‬Vices:‭ ‬A Love Story,‭ ‬ back at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton,‭ ‬where it had its world premiere in the summer of‭ ‬2009.

Vices is a series of eclectic songs about obsessions and addictions,‭ ‬tied together by a pair of lithe,‭ ‬athletic dancers whose characters‭’ ‬bad habits are illustrated by the musical numbers.‭ ‬In the opening sensuous pas de deux,‭ ‬they meet and hop into bed without knowing much more than their physical attraction to each other.‭ ‬The next day,‭ ‬they start to get acquainted,‭ ‬by opening up about their vices.

She smokes,‭ ‬is hooked on recreational shopping,‭ ‬loves chocolate to excess and is addicted to plastic surgery.‭ ‬He is a workaholic,‭ ‬craves working out at the gym and needs to play casino blackjack.‭ ‬With these personal confessions out on the table,‭ ‬they then have to figure out if they have any future together.

Vices:‭ ‬A Love Story,‭ ‬on the other hand,‭ ‬has a definite future.

‭“‬I think it deserves to have a big life.‭ ‬It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen,‭” ‬says Clive Cholerton (at right),‭ ‬who gambled by making the show his introduction as the Caldwell’s new artistic director.‭ “‬You’re at a high emotional level when the show begins and it only goes up from there.‭”

“I just think it‭’‬s so unique,‭ ‬innovative theater,‭” ‬chimes in AC Cuilla,‭ ‬the show’s Tony Award-nominated‭ (‬Footloose‭) ‬choreographer.‭ “‬I personally think this would be a great show to have running off-Broadway in New York.‭ ‬I think New York audiences would love this show and identify with it.‭”

Writers Mike Heitzman and Ilene Reid had sent Cholerton a CD of the score,‭ ‬just at the time that such TV dance competitions‭ ‬as Dancing with the Stars and‭ ‬So You Think You Can Dance‭?‬ were posting big ratings.‭ ‬They had been seeking a way to connect the dots of their songs,‭ ‬and Cholerton suggested a pair of dancers whose internal monologues were the musical vices.

After agreement on the concept,‭ ‬Cuilla flew down to Boca and began creating the show on the fly.‭ ‬In fact,‭ ‬he devised and rehearsed the dances before there was any dance music.‭

“I’ve never worked like that before and now I will always want to if you have a team who can work like that,‭” ‬says Cuilla.‭ “‬We’d just play with it,‭ ‬and I’d start to create a rhythm.‭ ‬Then Everett‭ (‬Bradley,‭ ‬one of the co-composer‭) ‬came in,‭ ‬got the feel for it and created music that fit that rhythm.‭”

Cholerton was pleased with the results of that first production,‭ ‬while recognizing its limitations.‭ “‬It was very satisfying,‭ ‬but it felt like what it was‭ ‬--‭ ‬not a finished show,‭” ‬he concedes.‭ “‬I loved the fact that it was something that no one had seen before.‭ ‬This time around,‭ ‬we want to take that same excitement,‭ ‬that same originality,‭ ‬but take away those moments where we simply ran out of time.‭”

Cholerton is gambling again by bringing the show back to the Caldwell so soon after the initial run.‭ ‬But since it played during the summer,‭ ‬he knew that a lot of his subscribers missed it.‭

“It,‭ ‬to me,‭ ‬is the statement of where we are headed,‭ ‬but so few people saw the statement.‭” ‬So,‭ ‬he thought,‭ “‬Let’s do it again and give ourselves the opportunity to work on it again.‭”

Rather than a total overhaul of the show,‭ ‬he sees this production as a‭ “‬refinement,‭ ‬neither a re-mount nor a rework.‭” ‬Vices still runs only‭ ‬80‭ ‬minutes,‭ ‬without an intermission,‭ ‬about which Cholerton says,‭ “‬That’s how long it takes to tell the story.‭”

He and the writers mulled the notion of expanding the show by added a few vices,‭ ‬but ultimately decided against it.‭ “‬You soon get to the point of thinking,‭ ‘‬How messed up are these people‭?’ ”

VICES:‭ ‬A LOVE STORY,‭ ‬Caldwell Theatre Co.,‭ ‬7901‭ ‬N.‭ ‬Federal Highway,‭ ‬Boca Raton.‭ ‬Friday,‭ ‬Nov.‭ ‬12,‭ ‬through Sunday,‭ ‬Dec.‭ ‬12.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$27-$50.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬561‭) ‬241-7432‭ ‬or‭ (‬877‭)‬ 245-7432.‭

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