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Come Fly With Me (Come Fly Away)


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#1 Drew

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 09:04 PM

I was a bit underwhelmed by Tharp's "Come Fly with Me" when I saw it Thursday night. "Vegas-y" was my companion's comment; well, it IS Sinatra, but that does about sum it up. Perhaps not entirely. For a brief moment towards the end, when--to the strains of "My Way,"--the women came out in white gowns (as in Balanchine's Vienna Waltzes) and, with their partners, swooped across the stage in various asymmetrical patterns of lifts and dips cued unexpectedly to the music, it had something like the poetry of Tharp's early works.

The plot (such as it is) is a riff on a series of stereotypes -- gangsters, glamor girls, charming more-or-less innocents, plus the main character who is also the one black character-- a super-sexualized, at times screaming (literally) woman who gets beaten by her stalker boyfriend (or love-hate partner or whatever), crawls on the floor animalistically and enjoys lesbian sex. Presumably, none of this is unself-conscious (though I would not go so far as to say I found it ironic), but it didn't seem terribly interesting either as a riff "on" the stereotype. The "My Way" number was such a pleasure in part because its beauties seemed meant to sort of sweep the past away without quite forgetting it -- offering a formal idealization of what preceded. But I wish I had found the "past" in question more compelling to begin with...

I had not gone expecting a masterpiece, but rather thought to enjoy the show as a guilty pleasure, and at times I did--I like Sinatra--but for the guilty pleasure to really kick in the men would have had to generate more of the heat the choreography was, to say the least, telegraphing and I would have had to like the costumes more. To my eyes they looked more 'dance company budget' than 'Broadway budget' and the lingerie in Act II -- when people start undressing -- was not particularly fetching. Maybe that was the irony. Or maybe I just missed the irony. The dancers were very good, but I wasn't quite blown away by any of them and I feel I should have been.

I do recognize that Atlanta, where the show is now, counts as a try out and the show may be much better by the time it gets to New York. There is obviously a lot of talent on stage...

Edited to Add: Out of curiousity I just looked at some of the reviews; the critics so far like the show a lot.

#2 dirac

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 02:35 PM

Thank you for this review, Drew. I had mixed feelings about this project - obviously Sinatra's oeuvre is a better choice for Tharp (and theater) than Dylan, but what would she do with it?

Vegas-y" was my companion's comment; well, it IS Sinatra, but that does about sum it up. Perhaps not entirely. For a brief moment towards the end, when--to the strains of "My Way,"--the women came out in white gowns (as in Balanchine's Vienna Waltzes) and, with their partners, swooped across the stage in various asymmetrical patterns of lifts and dips cued unexpectedly to the music, it had something like the poetry of Tharp's early works.


There's the Sinatra of Vegas and the Sinatra we think of as an artist (some overlap, but not much) and in the past Tharp has worked well with both, but perhaps not here. As you note, however, tryouts are tryouts.

#3 abatt

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 02:27 PM

There is a casting notice for understudies for Tharp's new musical, which will be coming to Broadway in the Spring 2010. (Casting notice is on playbill.com, under "casting and jobs" link) The notice states that all of the dancers who originated their roles in the Alliance Theater production a few weeks ago will be returning to their roles in the broadway production. The understudy cast, according to the notice, is being guaranteed at least 2 performances per week. (I assume that the understudy cast will go on for the matinee days when there are 2 shows per day.) Anyway, great news. I can't wait to see this production.

#4 dirac

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 02:34 PM

Thank you for posting this, abatt. If you do see it, I hope you tell us about it!

#5 abatt

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 01:02 PM

This is from the NY Times:


"It’s been nearly 35 years since Frank Sinatra played the Great White Way, but Ol’ Blue Eyes is back: the singer’s music and voice will return to Broadway in a Twyla Tharp musical that its producers said on Monday will transfer to the Marquis Theater later this year. The musical, which is conceived, choreographed and directed by Ms. Tharp, was previously titled “Come Fly With Me” when it was presented at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta last fall, but will be called “Come Fly Away” for its Broadway run. (The show’s press representatives did not immediately offer an explanation for the name change, you dig?) Casting for “Come Fly Away” was not announced; it is to begin previews at the Marquis on March 1 and open on March 25."

#6 abatt

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 01:33 PM

This is a press release re Tharp's "Come Fly Away:

"Tony nominees Keith Roberts and John Selya, who starred in the Alliance Theatre world premiere of Twyla Tharp's Frank Sinatra-inspired dance musical Come Fly Away, will repeat their performances on Broadway.

Roberts and Selya, both veterans of Tharp's Movin' Out, will be joined by original principal dancers Alexander Brady, Rika Okamoto, Karine Plantadit, Matthew Dibble, Holley Farmer, Laura Mead and Charlie Neshyba-Hodges.

The Come Fly Away ensemble will feature Kristine Bendul, Colin Bradbury, Alexander Brady, Todd Burnsed, Jeremy Cox, Carolyn Doherty, Amanda Edge, Cody Green, Heather Hamilton, Laurie Kanyok, Meredith Miles, Marielys Molina, Eric Otto, Justin Peck, Joel Prouty, Ashley Tuttle and Ron Todorowski."

There are a lot of familiar names on this list!

#7 bart

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 06:04 PM

Thanks, abatt, for keeping this story updated.

So that's where Jeremy Cox has gone. I'm glad he has gotten such a high-profile gig.

I admit I wish Cox had remained in Miami -- and not just from an audience point of view. I think of having to dance six performances a week of the same choreography, week after week after week, and can't imagine what that would feel like for a dancer used to a richer and much more varied repertoire.

#8 carbro

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 06:18 PM

So that's where Jeremy Cox has gone. ... Six performances a week of the same choreography, week after week. I can't imagine what that would feel like for a dancer used to a much more varied and richer repertoire.

Eight, if you include matinees. :(

Broadway pays a lot more than a ballet company, so I understand the temptation. Of course, even in these days of not great job security, a one-year contract with a company can offer a more reliable income stream than a short-lived Broadway flop (not that I expect this one to flop -- at least not as quickly as Tharp's previous Broadway venture).

#9 vipa

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 06:31 PM

I understand that AGMA & Equity are fighting over the show. It had been AGMA but Equity is claiming it on Broadway. I believe the article I read said that the average salary was $3,800 per week.

#10 abatt

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 05:27 AM

Twyla Tharp's Come Fly Away opened on Broadway last night. Today's NY Times gave it a rave review. I read one other review (NY Post) which also gave the show an excellent review. I'm seeing the show in April. Can't wait!

#11 bart

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 07:04 AM

Thanks, abatt, for the Heads Up on the reviews. The NY Times piece is indeed a rave:

As the brooding or bouncing voice of Sinatra embraces the dancers in a cool caress — who needs dialogue when the Chairman is on the job?


http://theater.nytim...tml?ref=theater

#12 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 09:09 AM

Some other reviews are in as well -- these from dance critics rather than theater critics:

Apollinaire Scherr's review for The Financial Times is very positive: "Come Fly Away, Marquis Theatre, New York"

Tobi Tobias' review -- posted to her Arts Journal Daily blog "Seeing Things" -- is not: "One More for the Road"

#13 bart

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:14 AM

It would be wonderful to hear from BT members in NYC who have had the opportunity to see this.

In the meantime: a mainly negative review from the dance perspective by Alistair Macaulay in the NY Times. (The theater reviewer -- quoted above -- gave it a rave.)

http://www.nytimes.c....html?ref=dance

The dances are less sensational than sensationalist. How many times are women hoisted aloft in crotch-spreading lifts directly addressed at us? The duets keep saying not “You and I are in love/having an affair/going through problems” but something closer to pornography: “Take a look at what we two do together!” This is intimacy perverted into exhibitionism.

When Ms. Tharp was first tackling narrative and partnering, in works like the 1980 “Short Stories” (to songs by Supertramp and Bruce Springsteen), I remember following with my heart in my mouth. One of the special achievements of “Nine Sinatra Songs” was how many specifics of situation, character and relationship each number conveyed. And the inwardness of the male soliloquy in “Sinatra Suite” was another artistic feat. “Come Fly Away,” for all its intensity, is shallow by comparison. It recycles known effects rather than charts fresh emotions.

It's clear that the Times theater critic and dance critic have brought quite different perspectives to this show -- which is really rather interesting.

If one is on the Broadway beat, you may be talking to a different readership from someone approaching from a largely dance perspective. But "Come Fly Away" is a Broadway show that expresses what it has to say (whatever that is) in largely dance terms. It's a puzzlement.

Does it make sense that the two Times reviewers apparently "saw" such different shows? Or is sit possible that the Macaulay's distinction between "sensational" and "sensationalist" no longer has relevance in Broadway musicals?

#14 mimsyb

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 01:59 PM

It would be wonderful to hear from BT members in NYC who have had the opportunity to see this.

In the meantime: a mainly negative review from the dance perspective by Alistair Macaulay in the NY Times. (The theater reviewer -- quoted above -- gave it a rave.)

http://www.nytimes.c....html?ref=dance

The dances are less sensational than sensationalist. How many times are women hoisted aloft in crotch-spreading lifts directly addressed at us? The duets keep saying not “You and I are in love/having an affair/going through problems” but something closer to pornography: “Take a look at what we two do together!” This is intimacy perverted into exhibitionism.

When Ms. Tharp was first tackling narrative and partnering, in works like the 1980 “Short Stories” (to songs by Supertramp and Bruce Springsteen), I remember following with my heart in my mouth. One of the special achievements of “Nine Sinatra Songs” was how many specifics of situation, character and relationship each number conveyed. And the inwardness of the male soliloquy in “Sinatra Suite” was another artistic feat. “Come Fly Away,” for all its intensity, is shallow by comparison. It recycles known effects rather than charts fresh emotions.

It's clear that the Times theater critic and dance critic have brought quite different perspectives to this show -- which is really rather interesting.

If one is on the Broadway beat, you may be talking to a different readership from someone approaching from a largely dance perspective. But "Come Fly Away" is a Broadway show that expresses what it has to say (whatever that is) in largely dance terms. It's a puzzlement.

Does it make sense that the two Times reviewers apparently "saw" such different shows? Or is sit possible that the Macaulay's distinction between "sensational" and "sensationalist" no longer has relevance in Broadway musicals?


It's definitely a difference of perspective. Isherwood writes from a theater critic's point of view and Macaulay from the dance/choreographic. I wonder how much of Tharp's choreography for other medium Isherwood has seen. And in the current sad state of dance on Broadway, "Come Fly Away" certainly stands out as well, different. For my taste (and I'm a Tharp fan), I have to agree with Macaulay. His view was the show I saw, not Isherwood's. No where did the choreography say anything about the characters. It was just one flash and trash step after the other. And no where did the movement reflect (let alone respect) the songs and singing of Sinatra. I am almost tempted to see a matinee performance where the second cast has a go at the choreography. (at those prices that's probably not going to happen). But maybe dancers other than the first cast would reveal something that is sorely missing from the first. Namely soul and heart. After about fifteen minutes, I lost interest in most of what they were doing and it became painful to watch all the grimacing and false smiles. I distain seeing flashy movement just for itself . Choreographing a jump that has no name, but twists the body and legs in the service of a "Whahoo" from the audience is false and selfish on the part of the choreographer. And the repetition of the lifts, turns and jumps became just mechanics after awhile. Macauley used the term "pornographic". I would use "cheesy". Sadly this is what so many in the audience will assume is good dancing. "So You Think You Can Dance"...eat your heart out! Tharp has you beat in spades!

#15 bart

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 02:36 PM

Thanks, mymsib, for your report. I love the following sentence especially:

Choreographing a jump that has no name, but twists the body and legs in the service of a "Whahoo" from the audience is false and selfish on the part of the choreographer.

We've all seen plenty of those moves in our time as dance-goers, but I've rarely heard them described so concisely.


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