Gilberto Santa Rosa and the cast of <i>Forever Tango</i>
Gilberto Santa Rosa and the cast of Forever Tango
(© Walter McBride)

Sultry sounds and sexy steps of the tango are back on Broadway with the return of Luis Bravo's Forever Tango, a crowd-thrilling dance revue now at the Walter Kerr Theatre, where it originally opened sixteen years ago. Age has not dimmed the luster of this piece, a nearly worldless history of the Argentinean art form. Despite the makings of middling cruise-ship entertainment — from the lack of a set to the fiber-optic star curtain — Forever Tango transcends because of the adrenaline-packed thrills that come with watching talented people do what they do best.

With choreography by the dancers, a group that now includes Dancing with the Stars cast members Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy as "guest stars," Forever Tango gives you gooseflesh from the mere intertwining of a pair of legs. When a male partner (Juan Paolo Horvath) spins his female companion (Victoria Galoto) around his torso or lifts her onto his shoulder by merely gripping her thigh, it's impossible not to audibly say "Whoa." The movement — performed with jaw-droppingly uncommon skill by the eighteen-member ensemble — has all of the natural-born, low-tech human thrills of the award-winning revival of Pippin playing a few blocks away.

Forever Tango is one of those rare revues with nary a dull moment. Even if there are a few too many orchestral interludes over the course of the two-hour-and-twenty-minute production, the eleven-member band, featuring violin, viola, cello, bass, keyboard, piano, and bandoneon (a variation on the accordion), is so impressively tight that watching them alone on stage, with passion filling every note, is just as stirring as viewing the dancers.

The presence of five-time Grammy Award-winning crooner Gilberto Santa Rosa lends a similar kind of joy as he unleashes his smooth vocals at various points throughout. Closing each act with the rousing "Que Alguien Me Diga," (one of his big hits), Santa Rosa garners applause from eager audience members just by strolling onto the stage. The words might be in Spanish, but the emotion packed within each note is universal.

Sparks are set flying as these performers simply glide across the stage; gorgeous people telling sexy stories through the sensual language of their bodies. It doesn't get steamier than that.