Reviewed by Claudia Perry
If you like Billy Joel's music, author of such indelible hits as "Just the Way You Are", "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me", "Uptown Girl", "She's Got a Way", "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and my personal fave, "I've Loved These Days"(and who doesn't?), then you'll love "Movin' Out". If you like fast-paced, athletic dancing by young, hard bodied performers then you'll love "Movin' Out". If you like the Ballet or Modern Dance - then you'll love "Movin' Out" - because this show is a combination of all these ingredients. Conceived, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp this Tony Award-winning musical is based on 24 classic songs by Bill Joel. Unlike the Broadway show, "Contact" which incorporated dialogue and dance, "Movin' Out" dispenses with this lingual formality. It is a story told through movement and accompanying song - sung by one performer along with an eight-piece band.
Movin' Out is the story of three lifelong friends and their relationships through the turbulent 60's and 70's, encompassing the Vietnam War, Drugs and the sexual revolution.
Twyla Tharp's choreography is quite spectacular. She can have her dancers go from being splashy and fun to incredibly nonchalant and natural, and then jump to being overtly sexual and acrobatic. Needless to say the demands of this kind of dance are such that the lead dancers must perform the show in rotation (like the principals in a traditional ballet company). First and foremost, credit must be given to Darren Holden who plays piano and sings Lead Vocal throughout the two hour performance. Equally gifted as both a musician and a singer, Mr. Holden, is the fabric that (forgive me) holds the piece together. In fact, the audience was so enamored of Mr. Holden's performance that they expected him to play an encore. He conceded by playing an embellished end of the finale. I had to hold myself back from screaming out, "Piano Man", which is not included in the show. It was hard to remember that I wasn't at a Billy Joel "concert".
It goes without saying that all of the dancers in this National Tour Production are excellent. However, there are some performances that are worth giving special note to. Laurie Kanyok is a standout Brenda --her luminous persona projecting way beyond the footlights. Matthew Dibble, although he had a smaller role as James, was exemplary. I found his acting skills to be as strong and as moving as his lithesome dancing. David Gomez(Tony) who also gets points for simple hunkability was also a very convincing and appealing actor as well as a graceful and powerful dancer. Lynda Sing was emotionally convincing as Judy, the girl who loses her fianc_e in the Vietnam War, in her black veiled lament. And Brendan King, who tended to play the angry young man as a one note samba, still remains an amazing athlete. I had to stop counting the number of back and forward flips he did all night.
For my taste, I was disappointed that the story didn't quite go far enough, and I would have liked to see a little more narrative. But all told -- this National Tour of "Movin' Out" is an exciting and entertaining evening of song and dance.