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BWW Review: SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS at The Illuminated Stage Company

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Illuminated Stage presents Richard Alfieri's much-produced 2001 play

BWW Review: SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS at The Illuminated Stage Company

Illuminated Stage's second show at Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts is "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks," a glorified sitcom that gets a loving production from the company.

Richard Alfieri's two-character play premiered in 2001 and has been performed on Broadway and worldwide, translated into 14 languages and made into a 2014 film. It takes place in the high-rise oceanfront condo of Lily Harrison, wife of a retired Baptist minister. She's hired Michael Minetti, the new employee of a dance studio, to teach her the titular six lessons-swing, tango, waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha and contemporary-in her home.

Minetti is a gay man, a former Broadway dancer who moved to Florida to take care of his mother, now deceased. The two regard each other warily, guarding secrets that the audience can readily guess and bristling at every perceived slight as the zingers fly. Of course a close bond is formed, and of course there are twists, with age and illness threatening the pair.

Director Julie Fulcher-Davis has a perfect cast for the show. Kelly Kennedy and Travis West are both multitalented actors who delineate their characters with sharpness and heart, and they have the musical and dance skills to make the lesson sequences fun to watch. And they sure can wear clothes-Elizabeth Weiss Hopper provides several scrumptious costumes, like Michael's brocade dinner jacket and Lily's sequined gown. Vinnie Gonzalez is the designer of the sleek set, which has the benefit of Andrew Bonniwell's lovely lighting as its sky-view backdrop.

Fulcher-Davis does a wonderful job with the material, which gets more than its due in laughter and tears. Much as we may resist the script's emotional manipulation, Lily and Michael are easy to love, and by the end we're rooting for them to live long and be happy.

"Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks"

At: Baxter Perkinson Center for the Arts, 11810 Center St., Chester

Through: December 5

Tickets: $35; students $20

Info: illuminatedstage.org or (804) 748-5555

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