BWW Reviews: More Lessons Taught Than Dancing in SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS
Human existence can be a pretty lonely, tenuous thing. When push comes to shove, our dependence on our friends (or even strangers for that matter) is something you should never take for granted. This is just one of the lessons you will take away from your visit to the Agape Actors Co-op production of 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' currently playing in Georgetown in the East View High School's black box theater.
'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' by Richard Alfieri, is a traditional 'two-hander' play. Two-hander is a term for a work with only two main characters. The two characters in question usually display differences in social standing or experiences which are explored and possibly overcome as the story unfolds. It has been translated into 12 languages and has been produced in over 20 countries. It has established itself as an international hit and one of the most produced plays in the world.
Alfieri's script is the story of a childless widow of a preacher, Lily Harrison, who has hired a gay dance instructor, Michael Minetti, for private dance lessons. While their relationship has an antagonistic beginning (and given the very different backgrounds of these two characters, that is to be expected), it slowly changes into a deep friendship as this unlikely duo slowly reveal their true selves to each other during the six weeks of dance lessons. One of the shows' most charming moments comes when Lily has canceled a lesson because of illness and Michael shows up anyway, with hot soup. While 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' is a comedy-drama that features both music and dance, it also addresses the real life issues of ageism and intolerance. Its the story of two people who have been marginalized by society - Lily by age and her single status and Michael because he is still a mostly closeted gay man.
The script is not without it's technical challenges... mostly the costume changes for the two performers. Director Jeff Davis has wisely employed the device of having a pair of dancers to display the lesson that Lily and Michael are in the middle of to entertain the audience while the actors make their changes.
Joan Baker is delightful in the role of Lily Harrison, giving a touching and nuanced performance. Her character has some of the best lines in the script and her delivery on 'When you say your real age out loud your face hears you' was a highlight of the evening. Olin Meadows does a good job with the difficult task of making a basically unlikeable character seem more human. As written, the character really doesn't begin to become someone the audience can root for until late in the first act. It is to Meadows' credit that he tempers the characters abrasiveness from the beginning. The real-life friendship of Meadows and Baker informs their relationship in the play and makes their bond totally believable. As 'The Soul of the Dance', Georgia Medler & Dave Lovelace, are utterly charming. They even spend the intermission giving audience members free mini dance lessons.
I am, however, at a loss as to why this production was miked when no audience member is farther than 3 chairs away from the stage. When the mikes were off for the 4th scene the actors finally came alive and nuances that I had been hoping for began to develop. When you are this close to the performers, the tubes on the side of the face are very distracting. I had no problem hearing the actors when the mikes were not working in the end of act one and actually found it preferable that they weren't miked.
'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' may, on the surface, be about dancing; however, if you look beneath the surface, you will discover that it is really about life and living it to the fullest. That's a lesson that everyone can use.
SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS, produced by Agape Actors Co-op, 4490 E. University Ave., Georgetown, TX 78626) runs June 26, 27 and 28. Performances are Thursday - Saturday at 8:00 pm. Tickets are 20.00 for General Admission and 15.00 for Students and Seniors. To purchase, visit http://agapeactors.wordpress.com/buy-tickets or call 512-468-0610.