By Diane Johnson
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks now playing at the Waterfront Playhouse is an amazing combination of musical comedy and serious social commentary. It provides a wonderful example of two people bridging the cultural divide between the traditional Southern Bible belt and today’s modern Gay community. Each scene peels back the layers of the onion, exposing the characters vulnerability and willingness to let go of stereotypes. The warring emotions of Lily, the widow of a Baptist minister and Michael, her single Gay dance instructor, are laid bare for the audience.
This is also a story about aging, and how the bonds of friendship can grow between two very different people who surprise each other by discovering they share many of the same values. Aging in our society is not an easy topic to tackle and yet this award-winning playwright, Richard Alfieri, does so with a deft hand. Whether describing Lily’s sense of “being invisible”, or her rebirth upon realizing she is free to redefine her life; Michael’s compassion allows the audience to understand the emotional transition.
The dialogue is a series of fast paced and irreverent one-liners that will make you laugh one moment and gasp the next with the realization they just said that on stage! Make no mistake; the witty repartee underlies a more serious message. Alfieri weaves a tale of two people at seemingly opposite ends of the social and political spectrum. And yet we discover that the widow and the single gay man are both compromised by a culture that attempts to marginalize their lives.
The scenes are played out against the exquisite backdrop of a beautiful Florida sunset, seen from a tastefully furnished high-rise condo on the beach. The dancing and music, which range from the sedate Waltz to the sexy and energetic Tango, were a delightful interlude to the passionate arguments between Lily and Michael; played by Joy Hawkins and Denis Hyland.
Joy Hawkins artfully plays the widow and long-suffering wife of an old-fashioned pulpit-pounding minister. She is also the Artistic Director of the Red Barn Theatre and is a talented actress in her own right, having appeared on every stage in Key West. Joy’s interactions with Denis Hyland, her dance instructor, are at times hilarious and then turn quite serious. Denis is a professional dancer who has performed with ballet companies from NYC to Ohio and Kansas. Hyland’s energy emanates throughout the entire performance, throwing his body up in the air at times and then moving quickly around the stage before landing gracefully in a chair. The dancing between the two actors is fun, uplifting and poignant all at the same time.
Stuart Meltzer makes his Key West directing debut with this production. His usual haunt is the Zoetic Stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, where he is the Artistic Director. Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a vibrant production with universal appeal that teaches us how our human need to connect to each other triumphs over our fears and differences. This is is a world-class show not to be missed!
CLICK HERE TO SEE CLIPS FROM THE SHOW
The latest happenings at The Waterfront Playhouse.
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The Award winning Waterfront Playhouse on Mallory Square, is please to announce their On The Edge series. "With the theatre located On The Edge of the water as well as most productions chosen and designed to be performed On The Edge of the stage, it seemed like a winning title", said Managing Artistic Director Tom Thayer. Although a few productions, such as the upcoming musical The Rocky Horror Show will have more production value, the majority of productions, such as Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, The Informer, Bash, and Trunk Material 2 are created and designed to be performed simply.
Another difference in On The Edge productions is the time.
The Award winning Waterfront Playhouse on Mallory Square, is please to announce their Main Stage series. "With the theatre located Main Stage of the water as well as most productions chosen and designed to be performed Main Stage of the stage, it seemed like a winning title", said Managing Artistic Director Tom Thayer. Although a few productions, such as the upcoming musical The Rocky Horror Show will have more production value, the majority of productions, such as Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, The Informer, Bash, and Trunk Material 2 are created and designed to be performed simply.
Another difference in Main Stage productions is the time.