BWW Review: FREDDIE FALLS IN LOVE Doesn't Quite Take Off
I had high hopes for FREDDIE FALLS IN LOVE, the dance piece running at the Joyce Theater July 23-August 4. After all, it was choreographed by Emmy Award-winner Al Blackstone, and it stars SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE winner Melanie Moore along with Broadway actor Matt Doyle.
The Broadway-style story ballet is performed to an eclectic score of popular songs, including Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, Fiona Apple, Jacques Brel, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra, and Pete Townsend. The lyrics to the songs help to tell the story, but that's part of the problem. While the dancers try to convey character motivation, much of the choreography is reduced to exaggerated pantomime.
When the story begins, Doyle's character meets Melanie Moore's character, and they promptly fall in love. The next thing we know, it's ten months later, and he's ready to propose. Casting actor Matt Doyle as the main character is problematic; talented and likable, he isn't capable of performing a pas de deux with Moore that would have allowed us to feel into their relationship. As a result, we aren't that invested in what happens to them.
Instead, we jump to Moore's character discovering the engagement ring and dancing a pas de deux with it, conveying her ambiguous feelings about marrying Doyle's character. This solo, which doesn't happen until a few minutes into the piece, is the first moment in the evening when things come alive. The choreography shows off Moore's substantial skills; we're treated to her expressive floor work, extension, and turning abilities all in a matter of seconds.
But when she leaves him, we're subjected to a long pantomime section in which he fakes clown cries as his friends try to cheer him up. There's so much light-hearted silliness that it's difficult to feel much for anyone on stage.
Much of the choreography also seems so simplistic that it wastes the dancers' skills. There are inspired moments here and there, however. The showstopper of the evening is a flashy number set in Paris to "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" by The Hot Sardines, with Kolton Krouse as the standout. The number brought to mind Bob Fosse's "Sing Sing Sing."
Even with all the pantomime, the resolution of FREDDIE FALLS IN LOVE isn't 100% clear, and at just over an hour, it still felt overly long. I recognize all the talent involved, and I wanted so much to like this production. But unfortunately, for me, it was less than satisfying.
PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Chao