Granted, some of the action in the Tony Award-winning Broadway extravaganza can be puzzling. But the basic premise — love, loss and social change against the backdrop of the Vietnam War — couldn’t be clearer.
I caught the first, sold-out performance of “Movin’ Out” last night. A second show starts tonight at 8 p.m. at the PAC.
My conclusion? “Movin’ Out” is more than a musical.
It’s best described as a dance-ical, a high-energy burst of modern dance movements choreographed by Twyla Tharp and narrated by pop icon Billy Joel’s piano rock hits.
Perched above the stage with a capable six-pece band, the Piano Man (Matthew Friedman last night, Kyle Martin tonight) comes aross as a omnsicient uncle — winking at his charges’ foibles and expressing sadness and anger when it all goes wrong.
Below, dancers with tight abs and impressive stamina add their own flavor to every song. Styles range from elegant classical ballet to saucy salsa and airborne kicks and jumps.
The audience grows so used to the interplay between song and dance that the few lines of spoken dialogue are almost jarring.
As for the music, a few selections in “Movin’ Out” seem like a strange fit. (I fail to see the link between “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” and enlisting for the U.S. Army.)
Most, however, mold nicely to the story.
“Movin’ Out” uses “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Goodnight Saigon” to chilling effect to reflect the horror and confusion of Vietnam. And handful of love songs — “She’s Got A Way,” “Shameless” — make the onstage romance seem even sweeter.
It’s a tribute to Joel’s skill as a storyteller that the unusual pairing of wordless dance and motionless songs works so well.
For more information about “Movin’ Out,” call 756-2787 or visit www.pacslo.org.
– Sarah L.
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