Let’s Dance! The Musical

July 2023

It’s 1963. Marco (Luciano Decicco) returns to his alma mater Northumberland School in Manhattan after failing in his dream of a show business career. Now he will teach drama. His sister Debra (Ali Powell) is a top student and the best dancer, a ranking confirmed by Principal Sherman (Michelle Shuster). Though dance instructor Sophia (Mikayla Stradiotto) might have her own idea about this – she has her own ideas about everything.
The curriculum focus is on the all-important ‘showcase’, which will help determine the students’ future academic and professional placements. Marco wants to follow the sure, staid path of classical score and motif (he’s thinking 18th century Vienna). But the pupils, and their teacher, are pining for something different, new and fresh. Why not compose using the music they really want to dance to? Then, an unexpected development on the school front opens a stage door …

Let’s Dance features a versatile, likeable cast, many of whom play multiple roles. Kenzie Drover as Brenda and Rebecca Sellars as Andrea in particular have some powerhouse moments, but everyone gets a chance to shine, and everyone hits their notes and marks.
The songs are intercut with minimal, somewhat expository dialogue. The dramatic (as opposed to musical) performances are stylized to project fundamental character traits: ambition, mischievousness, perfidy, loyalty. It’s a musical, all about the song and dance, and both flow consistently. The choreography ranges from solos and duets to the full chorus, from arabesques and pirouettes to the boogie woogie and the mashed potato.
It’s a straightforward story (add a few dashes of star-crossed and crisscrossed romance), with physical kinetics, as opposed to character arcs, at its core. Overall it’s well-paced with fluid and brisk scene and costume changes. The cast manipulates their own props and backdrops, and change costumes with unbelievable efficiency. The show moves with snap and zest, and clocks in at about two hours, with intermission. Integral to the pep and energy is a live band (six musicians on keys, guitar, bass, and drums). The score is packed with timely pieces, such as Music Box Dancer, The Peppermint Twist, Hound Dog.

Directed by Keith Pike, with original concept and story by Walter Schroeder, book and choreography by Victoria Wells-Smith, set design by Joshua Quinlan, and costumes by Graham McMonagle. A Terra Bruce production.
Let’s Dance continues at Holy Heart Theatre until July 16.

(Photos: ensemble; Marco (Decicco) and Sophia (Stradiotto); ensemble. Photo credits: Riche Perez)

Q&A with Michelle Porter


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