Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: NUREYEV'S EYES Takes Stage at Delaware Theatre Company

TO PAINT THE DANCER. 'NUREYEV'S EYES" TAKES THE STAGE AT DELAWARE THEATRE COMPANY.

What does it take to paint one of the greatest male ballet dancers of the 20th century? One can surmise, a talented artist. But, what if the task of painting an icon became a challenge between capturing the dancer in motion and becoming conscious of the motion of the dancer?

David Rush provides a satisfying glimpse into the relationship between the iconic dancer, Rudolph Nureyev, and famous American realist painter, Jamie Wyeth, in his two-character, 90 minute play, Nureyev's Eyes. In an imaginary telling based on a true life friendship, Wyeth (William Connell) desires to paint Nureyev (Bill Dawes) not only to immortalize the legend, but to also capture the true motion of the great ballet dancer in the hopes of reaching a creative pinnacle on the way to becoming as notably famous as his artists grandfather and father. Nureyev desires to be immortalized; however, more so through his dance prowess than on a canvas, as evidenced by his insatiable draw to the spotlight and strong-willed pursuit to be appointed director for New York City Ballet.

The men meet at a posh Manhattan party where Wyeth divulges his desire to paint Nureyev. At first, Nureyev quickly dismisses Wyeth's requests for a portrait session. That is until Wyeth throws into the conversation the fact that he is close with Lincoln Kirstein, the co-founder of the NYCB (and the person who can bestow upon Nureyev the coveted position). Does Nureyev continue the dialog with Wyeth simply as a stepping stone? Perhaps, at first. What transpires between the two men over the course of time, in this case 16 years, is a relationship that soars, dips and dives well beyond friendly exchanges between artist and subject. There is plenty of discourse between the two men at the beginning of the new found "collaboration." The mischievous way in which the two learn about each other - by trading (sometimes) barbarous riddles - is an unexpected delight. "How is Wyeth like the K.G.B.?" By the end, the two men forge a camaraderie rooted in the shared ardor for their individual artistry.

Connell genuinely portrays Wyeth as a down-to-earth, friendly guy with calmness and clarity. As written, Wyeth tends to lack an urgency to openly express passion for his art. Surely Wyeth has a deep-seeded, burning of his own that exposes itself every now and then. The play is formulaic at times and lacks the intensity of similar works such as Red or Freud's Last Session. Wyeth's composition is in direct contrast to his counterpart. Dawes skillfully and realistically exudes Nureyev's tour-de-force personality. Dawes never strays from maintaining a dancer's physical stature or his character's mindset. While giving a barre lesson to Wyeth, one learns that the simple act of standing as a ballet dancer isn't easily achieved (and provides a bit of comedy to those watching). The time spent together allows each to expose their inner turmoil. But it is Nureyev's dance that morphs the often simplistic written word into a truer form of the man. Choreographer Charlie Williams' disciplined movements effortlessly melds with the sound design and original music of Scott Killian to infuse the heightened emotion lying within each step of a dancer. The lighting design by Christopher J. Bailey effectively conveys the mood of each shifting scene.

As Nureyev once stated, "Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration." While there is plenty of superbly crafted technique throughout this production courtesy of director, Michael Mastro, the moments of inspiration are enough to please audience members out for an evening of live theater.

NOTE: Jed Peterson will play the role of Rudolph Nureyev beginning March 16.

Nureye's Eyes runs through March 20, 2016.

Delaware Theatre Company, 200 Water Street, Wilmington, DE 19801.

Visit www.delawaretheatre.org or call (302) 594-1100 for tickets.



Previews: ANASTASIA at The Playhouse Photo
Wilmington resident and theatre veteran Gerri Weagraff comes to The Playhouse as the Dowager Empress in the national tour of ANASTASIA. Six performances from February 9 – 12. Music and lyrics are by the award-winning team of Flaherty and Ahrens (RAGTIME, SUESSICAL THE MUSICAL and ONCE ON THIS ISLAND) with a book written by Broadway legend Terrance McNally.

Winners Announced For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Delaware Awards Photo
The winners have been announced for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Delaware Awards, honoring the best in regional productions, touring shows, and more which had their first performance between October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.

227 RENT and Possum Point Players Present WAIT UNTIL DARK Beginning This Week Photo
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Possum Point Players, the community theater group is bringing back a season of favorites from their five decades of live theater in Sussex County.

National Tour Of ANASTASIA Makes Wilmington Premiere in February Photo
Inspired by the beloved film, the romantic and adventure-filled new musical ANASTASIA is on a journey to Wilmington at last! The national tour of ANASTASIA comes to the historic Playhouse on Rodney Square on February 9th through February 12th.


From This Author - Rosanne DellAversano


Review: THE PLAY THE GOES WRONG at Wilmington Drama LeagueReview: THE PLAY THE GOES WRONG at Wilmington Drama League
September 15, 2022

BWW Delaware review of THE PLAY THE GOES WRONG at Wilmington Drama League. The end of summer blues got you down? A little stressed because you're going back to in-person work? Fear not! The Wilmington Drama League's production of The Play That Goes Wrong will put you in a much better mood. Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, and winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong is a delightful two hours of frivolity, farce, foolery and fun.

Previews: EVIL DEAD, THE MUSICAL at Bootless StageworksPreviews: EVIL DEAD, THE MUSICAL at Bootless Stageworks
July 11, 2022

It's been a few years since Bootless staged its fan favorite production of Evil Dead, The Musical. And, now that COVID-19 is getting further in the rearview mirror, Bootless deemed it time to bring back the beloved annual Summer Horror Bloody Show, complete with an awesome Pit Splatter Zone.

BWW Review: OTHER WORLD at Delaware Theatre CompanyBWW Review: OTHER WORLD at Delaware Theatre Company
March 31, 2022

Will the new musical OTHER WORLD continue in IRL after its premiere at Delaware Theatre Company? I sure hope so!

BWW Feature: Another Look Inside OTHER WORLD at Delaware Theater CompanyBWW Feature: Another Look Inside OTHER WORLD at Delaware Theater Company
March 13, 2022

Here are my initial thoughts on the new original work by Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen and Ann McNamee.

Meet the Creative Team: OTHER WORLD Opening at Delaware Theater Company, February 23Meet the Creative Team: OTHER WORLD Opening at Delaware Theater Company, February 23
February 21, 2022

Watch an interview with members of the creative team and actors of OTHER WORLD. Get a glimpse into what it takes to put together a brand new work of theater.