The cast of Groovaloo
The cast of Groovaloo
Someone forgot to tell the cast of Groovaloo, now at Los Angeles' El Portal Theatre as part of their national tour, about the laws of gravity, because for 90 minutes, this award-winning troupe of dancers continually defies it with their many spectacular moves. Just as important, this exciting show gives these kids from the streets a chance to express themselves through poetry and dance.

The team shares their camaraderie with their movements and relives many of their past fears and traumas, much like the casts of Runaways and The Me Nobody Knows did on Broadway in the 1970s: the fear of being perfect, of turning into their parents, of invisibility.

The stories include those of Shooz (Bradley Rapier) torn between what his folks thought was his destiny -- medicine -- and his own musical path; Lady Jules (Julie Urich), who battled depression and used dance as the healing power; and Al Star (Marissa Labog), a classically trained dancer fearful of making a mistake but finding fulfillment in the less "ordered" world of hip-hop.

The most dramatic story told belongs to BoogieMan (Steven Stanton) who had been shot right before the first incarnation of this show launched back in 2003. His spinal injury left Stanton in critical condition with expectations of paralysis; yet every evening Stanton dances on the stage with energy and grace and retells his rehabilitation with poignancy.

Several of the set pieces are visually intriguing -- helped by the inventive lighting design by Charlie Morrison -- including a robot invasion with Out There (Lindsey Blaufarb) and a musical homage of the Marx Brothers' famous mirror routine to represent how we both become clones of our parents while trying desperately to break away.

Director Danny Cistone could have shaved a few minutes off the running time, since the show does become repetitive and draggy; but, for the most part, the cast's acrobatic style of spinning on their heads, hopping on their hands, and other dazzling feats make the time go by speedily.