Monday, November 15, 2010

Review by Irv Rikon: Vices: A Love Story

I didn't see Vices: A Love Story in July 2009, when THE CALDWELL THEATRE in Boca Raton gave the musical its World Premiere production. Now it's back at the Caldwell through December 12, and this time I've seen it. Meanwhile, in 2009, the show garnered eight Carbonell Award nominations and actually received two awards. AC Ciulla won for his choreography, and Holly Shunkey won as Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Just for the record, music and lyrics were written by Susan Draus, Everett Bradley, Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid. The latter two are credited with writing the story.

So -- how do I feel about it and, more importantly, do I think you will like it?

The show really breaks new ground. Clive Cholerton, who directed the Premiere and the current production, and choreographer AC Ciulla clearly were seeking something "different," and they found it. Ms. Shunkey is back and teamed with male dancer Albert Blaise Cattafi. Together, they are outstanding. The dances and the dancers are very much the show's highlights. This is a mixed media event, with large screens on both sides of the stage showing imaginative original film clips that enhance the onstage action. The technical staff of Tim Bennett, John D. Hall, Dustin Hamilton and Sean Lawson create technological wonders here, adding to the story line.

Yet there's no story line as such. This is a revue. The dancers fall in love. Four others: Carlos L. Encinias, Danielle Lee Greaves, Lara Janine and Will Lee-Williams sing about them accompanied by an onstage band (20 original songs,) or they perform their daily tasks, enjoy their various entertainments, fall out of love and carry on with others.

In short, the show is fresh, loud, sassy, bawdy, vulgar. It's not a show for those who were nurtured by and still treasure the Great American Songbook. It's for those who grew up with hard rock, acid rock, rap and all the assorted paraphernalia younger generations may know. Some older folks like to identify with whatever is "in." They will like this. -- I'll return to Ms. Shunkey. She's an excellent dancer, yet she has no spoken dialogue. The Carbonell she won was for being the "Best Leading Actress in a Musical." There were very good actresses who spoke and emoted in last season's musicals. What was the Awards Committee thinking?

Next up at the Caldwell is a "thought-provoking comedy," Clybourne Park, about white and black families in a middle-class Chicago neighborhood. Running dates are January 2 - February 6. The theater has readings and luncheons on various dates. More often than not, those events are enjoyable and worthwhile attending. For tickets and additional information, telephone 877-245-7432 or online:

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