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Avoiding Regret

Come Fly Away at the Pantages Theatre

Zach talks about his experience seeing the Frank Sinatra musical Come Fly Away at the Pantages Theatre.

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Due to my years of theatergoing and the amount of work I devote to critical analysis both in class and rehearsal, it stands to reason that I've become increasingly critical of productions that I see. It's not a conscious choice, but I begin to dissect the piece and decode what the director, designers, actors, and playwright intended for the work to show and if, in fact, it came across in the final product. Then there are those occasions when I sit in the dark theater and am suddenly stopped in my tracks, overwhelmed with the emotional theatricality of a work. Twyla Tharp's Frank Sinatra-based "musical" held me close and didn't let go from the first note to the last pirouette.

Some might argue that this show isn't high art, that Twyla Tharp merely choreographs pieces that she likes and ignores the larger theme or idea. It would be easy for her to choreograph 18 numbers to various Sinatra tunes and let the audience have a good time. However, Tharp creates a rich world of characters who, without speaking, allow a story to unfold on the stage almost without anything happening. A slight twist of the head, a quick spin, and a flick of the wrist tells us that the young, clumsy couple is destined to be together. Rather than working in generality, Twyla Tharp cooks every moment of the 80-minute piece and provides the audience with an experience unlike any other modern choreographer.

It's this immediate, specific direction that brings Tharp's work out of the realm of generalization. She has an uncanny ability know exactly what needs to be communicated and how she can, with a swift and decisive action, feed that to the audience almost by osmosis. Although Come Fly Away does not have as much of a plot as Movin' Out, Tharp's last work based on the songbook of Billy Joel, I was enthralled and connected to the joys and frustrations of the characters.

It's the same sort of working method I try to apply to my own life. Broad strokes of generalization don't work. In my work as an actor and a director, I always set out to find the moments of humanity and "cook" them for their greatest potential. It's those small moments that are rich with emotion, but nevertheless are choreographed to communicate a message to an audience. Ariel glancing back at Prospero emotionless after receiving freedom, Amanda's realization that the gentlemen caller is not interested in Laura, Julia Augustine mouthing Herman's first words to her. This is choreography, and Twyla Tharp's Come Fly Away is a prime example.

Zach's Tips: - Broadway/LA offers student rush tickets for $25 which are available day of performance at the box office. - Parking is a hassle in Hollywood, so, if you can afford it, make it easy on yourself and park in the lot across from the theater.


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