SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKSby Richard Alfieri
Greater Lewisville Community Theatre
Directed by Kenny Green
Stage Manager - Nancy Mora
Set Design - George Redford
Set Construction - George Redford Costume Design - Sue Ellen Love
Dressers - Tani Paige Shukla, Kathe Rode, Traci Clements
Choreographer - Sarah Phillips
Lighting Design - Charles Wallace
Light/Sound Board Operator - Chris Buras
Scenic Artist - Desiree Fultz
Terri Hagar Scherer - Lily Harrison
David Johnson - Michael Minetti
Reviewed Performance: 2/8/2013
Reviewed by Joel Taylor, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a comedy with music and dance that deals with issues that include ageism and intolerance. Sparks initially fly, and not the romantic kind, when retired teacher Lily Harrsion hires acerbic dance instructor Michael Minnetti to teach her how to dance the Swing, Tango, Waltz, Cha Cha, Foxtrot and Contemporary Dance in six weeks. Through these lessons, Lily and Michael learn to put aside their differences, accept each other and ultimately develop a genuine connection. By the final lesson, Lilly and Michael each share with their most closely guarded secrets.
The Greater Lewisville Community Theatre is located in the original town center. The area has been redesigned with one way streets and includes the charm of an earlier time with older style store fronts and business signs
For this show, the set design by George Redford and the construction team of George Redford, magnificently created a set that looks and feels like what it is supposed to be, the Florida high-rise apartment of a somewhat conservative, elderly, retired teacher. The very believable upstage area represents the main level, entryway, wall to wall window over-looking the ocean and the seemingly functional kitchen. The slightly lower level of the apartment contains the sitting area as well as the area primarily used for the dancing. The color and furniture choices well represent the colors and style that would be found in the home of many a retiree in Florida.
Oh yes, there is dancing that takes place in this charming performance, and very good dancing at that. Using the space provided, the characters demonstrate a variety of dances as Minetti teaches Harrison each of six lessons during the course of the story. In addition to the well- designed choreography of Sarah Phillips, the cast also took additional lessons in order to perform each dance with confidence and the enjoyment that was so evident to the audience.
Sue Ellen Love creates a costume design scheme that fits the various layers of each of the character as the story progresses. From the initial costumes that each are wearing when they meet to the all black clothing with the red neckerchief that Minetti is wearing when he arrives to teach Harrison the Tango, the tuxedo and formally provocative dress that Harrison is wearing for the Waltz, and the old lady robe that Harrison is wearing when Minetti shows up for their last lesson. With so many costume changes for each character in so many scenes, it takes the combined efforts of each of the dressers to pull off so many changes so successfully.
Charles Wallace creates a lighting design that helps enhance the many emotional moments throughout the story, such as the many fades while the couple is dancing, and the touching fade to red in the final scene.
The opening night audience, while not large in number, included multiple age ranges and was very appreciative of the sometimes provocative subject matter, or an occasional and unexpected epithet, as when Minetti uses an unexpected playful term to describe the dress worn by Harrison for the waltz lesson. And the witty dialogue between the two characters as they develop their relationship throughout the story. Despite an occasional misspoken or dropped line through the first act, the actors maintained their focus and were able to deliver the humor of each confrontational scene.
David Johnson, as the dance instructor, Michael Minetti, brings to the character earnestness and alternating desires to please with an in-your-face-I-don't-care attitude mixed with a fun dash of passive aggressive manipulation of situations. This works very well with the initial overly conservative stodginess of Harrison. Though at times, and more in the first act than in the second act, Johnson overuses stereotypical posturing, as in the way he is standing or walking when Minetti initially introduces himself to Harrison.
As the play progresses, Jackson uses less overly stereotypical posturing, the line mistakes become fewer and the actors seem more at ease with their characters and situations. This provides the audience a greater opportunity to enjoy each character more fully as Minetti and Harrison more easily and subtly share more and more emotional layers with the audience as the play progresses
Terri Hagar Scherer is well cast as Lily Harrison, a minister's wife and retired teacher. She brings the life experiences of this character very successfully. In the opening scenes, Scherer presents a Harrison that is judgmental, antagonistic, belligerent towards Minetti, and harboring her own secrets.
Throughout the performance, Scherer believably presents an elderly lady living alone that the audience at times is angry with, empathizes with, and finally understands. Scherer brings in Harrison, a character that the audience enjoys watching as she transitions from a lonely, suspicious, sometimes overly controlling elderly lady that wants to enjoy life but cannot seem to let go of certain expectations, to a more relaxed and accepting person that is much more open to other ways of living. In each of these transitions, Scherer believably shares with the audience and Minetti, the reality of the frailties, cautions and strengths of an elderly lady living alone, and not yet finished living..
Instead of giving away the story line and heartwarming conclusion, I encourage you to make the trip to the quaint downtown area of Lewisville.
Find the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre and experience the intimate space and delightfully heartwarming story of how two very different people, each with their own agendas and experiences learn to accept and support each other as time goes by, despite age and cultural differences.
The production is well conceived, cast, produced and performed. This show may teach you how to dance and will also teach you a few other important lessons as well.
Greater Lewisville Community Theatre
160 West Main Street, Lewisville, Texas 75057
Runs through Feb. 24th,
Thursday?Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 2:0 pm
Tickets are $16.00, and $13.00 for those over 65 & under 18.
For info: www.glct.org or call the box office at 972-221-7469