REVIEW: Parsons Dance with the East Village Opera Company Present a Stunning Production of REMEMBER ME

As soon as you hear the strains of the keyboard riff from The Who's "Baba O'Reily" blending seamlessly into Mozart's "Overture for Figaro", you know you're in for something different. With their co-creation, Remember Me, Parsons Dance and the East Village Opera Company have crafted an exhilarating combination of music and modern dance that manages to transcend both mediums, transforming a simple story into something wholly new and visually arresting. Parsons Dance returns to the stage of the Edison Theatre, on the campus of Washington University, after a twenty year absence, with an absolutely stunning production (November 14th and 15th, 2009).

Remember Me is a simple tale of a romantic triangle gone horribly, tragically wrong, which utilizes specific pieces from the operatic canon to both illustrate and comment on the action occurring on stage. Marie finds herself pursued by both Luca and Marcus, and though she decides to go off with Luca, Marcus is not so easily discouraged. After Luca and Marie essentially consummate their love, she's kidnapped by her spurned suitor, and imprisoned after attempts to forcibly win her love fail. When Luca finally discovers her, it's too late, and he carries out his own revenge on her captor.

The East Village Opera Company's brilliantly clever arrangements of familiar operatic classics thread this story together, with standout numbers including: the pulsating sizzle of "Habanera" from Carmen; the delicate harmonies of the "Flower Duet" from Lakme which underscores a scene of playful sexuality; "Ave Maria", which plays out while Marcus is physically assaulting Marie in her cell; and the dark finality of "When I Am Laid in Earth" by Henry Purcell, where the reality of Marie's death becomes clear in Luca's mind. All these wonderful melodies are deftly performed by Tyley Ross and AnnMarie Milazzo with considerable emotion and style as the story plays out around them.

Abby Silva makes a vivid impression as Marie. She's an exceptional dancer, and she conveys her feelings clearly through her movements and her facial expressions. Zac Hammer does strong work as her paramour, Luca. Hammer displays a quiet control in his motion that suits the characterization well. Miguel Quinones brings a certain amount of flash to his interpretation of Marcus, and here too, the role is served properly.

An outstanding ensemble includes: Julie Blume, Billy Smith, John Corsa, Eric Bourne, Sarah Braverman, Steven Vaughn, Lauren Putty, and Melissa Ullom.

David Parsons, Tyley Ross and AnnMarie Milazzo have put something special together with this production. The direction and choreography are simply splendid, and they're complemented by effectively matched visual projections which provide even more candy for the eye. The lighting scheme of Howell Binkley also contributes greatly to the mood. An illusion that makes the dancers seem to be appearing out of nowhere is especially well done.

Remember Me is dazzling stuff, and Parsons Dance and the East Village Opera Company are to be congratulated for this extraordinary achievement. A matinee performance is scheduled for November 15, at 2pm.

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From This Author Chris Gibson

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