'Movin' Out' Tells the Story of Movin' On
Conceived, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp; music and lyrics by Billy Joel; scenic designer, Kelly Tighe; costume designer, Suzy Benzinger; lighting designer, Donald Holder; musical director, Rob Cookman; additional musical arrangements and orchestration, Stuart Malina; sound designer, Duncan Robert Edwards
Alex Black, Julius Caesar Carter, Gregory DeSantis, Adam Dulin-Tavares, Ashlee Dupré, Julian Farinas, Justin Flexen, Kurt Gorrell, Stacey L. Harris, Marc A. Heitzman, Casey Hill, Addie Hoobler, Janelle Junio, Laura Karklina, Patrick N. Lavallee, Rochelle LaBrecque, Anton Harrison LaMon, Chris Lingner, Lawrence Neuhauser, Kevin Petite, Lauren Sambataro, and Katie Sloan; as the Piano Man, Jon Abrams, Matthew Friedman and Kyle Martin
Performances: Five performances only through March 22, The Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston Street, Boston, Mass.
Tickets: Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787, The Colonial Box Office, or www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com
About four numbers into Tony Award winner Twyla Tharp's exhilarating dance musical Movin' Out based on the songs of multiple Grammy Award winner Billy Joel, you begin to remember just how many hits the famed piano man had during his long career. "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," "She's Got a Way," "Big Man on Mulberry Street," "Only the Good Die Young," the title song and many more make their way into this edgy rock ballet's pulsating score - and manage to tell a stirring story in the process.
Presented without dialog, Movin' Out lets the vocals of the onstage orchestra's Piano Man narrate the tale while dancers - wonderful dancers - execute Tharp's expressive and athletic choreography. Three buddies from Long Island - Eddie the rough hewn auto mechanic, Tony the gentle idealist, and James the wide-eyed romantic - graduate from high school and go off to war in Vietnam, leaving girls and past troubles behind. When only two return, shattered dreams leave Eddie and Tony bitter and broken, unable to connect with former lovers or deal with their guilt and pain. When they find forgiveness in the arms and eyes of old friends, however, they are finally able to let go of their tormented past and face the future with joy and hope.
Tharp has woven movement and music together in a coming of age story that has surprising depth. Dance scenes range from the elegant to the tempestuous: James and Judy's tender and blissful wedding proposal pas de deux to "Just the Way You Are;" Brenda's sultry and defiant "Uptown Girl" marking her return home after splitting with Eddie; Tony and Brenda's sweet and sensual first kiss during "This Night;" the terrifying lunacy of war as dramatically staged in "We Didn't Start the Fire;" Judy's mournful and haunting elegy to James, "The Stranger;" Eddie's tortured anguish of post traumatic stress in "Angry Young Man."
Throughout this tightly woven song and dance tapestry, the dancer/actors infuse their often remarkable acrobatics with raw emotion and deliberate attitude. The accompanying seven-piece band offers penetrating interpretations of Joel's and Stuart Malina's evocative arrangements. Tony and Brenda's "Big Shot" is a volatile love-hate apache in which his post-war disgust translates into violent rejection of the woman who patiently waited for his return. Eddie dances an urgent plea for forgiveness and love while the Piano Man adds to the intensity with his soaring protest of "Innocent Man." "Shameless" is a joyful reconciliation for Tony and Brenda. A medley of "River of Dreams," "Keeping the Faith" and "Only the Good Die Young" is an exalting triumph of self-acceptance for the hapless Eddie.
By the end of the show the audience has come to root for these scarred but ultimately redeemed individuals whose dramatic journey is both universal and uplifting. Movin' Out is about moving on. And move they do - gloriously.
PHOTOS BY CAROL MARCUS: Judy and James, It's Still Rock and Roll to Me; Brenda, Uptown Girl; Eddie, Angry Young Man; Matthew Friedman as the Piano Man