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Published on January 23rd, 2011 | by Greg


Sinatra Dance With Me: Where’s The Love?

Twyla Tharp is one of the biggest dance chore­og­ra­phers on the plan­et. She’s worked on Hol­ly­wood movies, won a Tony and two Em­mys, brought mul­ti­ple pro­duc­tions to Broad­way, in­clud­ing a well-liked Bil­ly Joel mu­si­cal (as well as one for Bob Dy­lan that was poor­ly re­viewed)… but some of her best work has been framed around the mu­sic of Frank Sina­tra. And, as one of our writ­ers is both a fan of Ms. Tharp and a pro­fes­sion­al dance in­struc­tor, it made per­fect sense for us to drop by the new show dur­ing our stay in Las Ve­gas as we at­tend­ed theCon­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show ear­li­er this month.

The pro­duc­tion start­ed it’s run on De­cem­ber 12th, Sina­tra’s birth­day, and is ex­clu­sive­ly show­ing at the Wynn Ho­tel. And though Sina­tra pro­vides all of the vo­cals, the mu­sic is backed by a 17-piece live big band, a nice touch that added some en­er­gy. Twen­ty-five of Old Blue Eyes’ songs are con­densed in­to an 80 minute, sin­gle act pro­duc­tion, and many of the biggest hits are there- “My Way”, “That’s Life”, “One For My Ba­by”, and “I’ve Got The World on a String” for starters. And un­like some Ve­gas shows, it’s fam­i­ly-friend­ly, though one num­ber does stray a bit in­to slight­ly-ques­tion­able ter­ri­to­ry.

The show ac­tu­al­ly has an odd pedi­gree- orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed un­der the name “Come Fly Away” as a Broad­way pro­duc­tion, this ver­sion has been al­tered a bit, tight­ened up to be com­fort­able with­out an in­ter­mis­sion, but re­tains most of the cast. Fans of Frank Sina­tra can en­joy the show sim­ply for the well-ar­ranged mu­sic, but younger at­ten­dees will want some­thing more- a show. And dance-fo­cused shows are a tougher sell, es­pe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the com­pe­ti­tion in Ve­gas from new-fan­gled Cirque, Cirque-clones, and high-pow­ered mag­ic acts.

Tharp’s pro­duc­tions can thrill- her work with Mikhail Barysh­nikov is still some of the most pow­er­ful dance out there- but much in en­ter­tain­ment and dance has changed in the last cou­ple of decades. The show re­tains some of her sig­na­ture style, and mo­ments were in fact quite stir­ring. But those mo­ments were un­for­tu­nate­ly lost in a shuf­fle of fair­ly for­get­table num­bers. Most of “Sina­tra Dance With Me” is fair­ly glossy, well-pro­duced and de­signed, but the over­all im­pres­sion is one of un­even­ness. With on­ly the barest set of plots and non­de­script char­ac­ters, min­i­mal cos­tumes or sets or changes, it is left for the au­di­ence to con­nect to the dances them­selves, usu­al­ly per­formed in cou­ples or trios rather than big num­bers.

Two of the roles and ac­tors (Mar­ty and Bet­sy, played by Char­lie Neshy­ba-Hodges and Lau­ra Mead) were stand­outs, leav­ing us look­ing for­ward to their next touch­ing and fun­ny scenes. But un­for­tu­nate­ly, most of the show moved from one tone to an­oth­er a bit jar­ring­ly, of­fer­ing no clear themes to draw you in. The dancers them­selves moved well, most­ly ab­sorb­ing, though the all-im­por­tant chem­istry wasn’t there for some of the cou­ples. And while it’s im­por­tant to touch on uni­ver­sal themes- loss, re­jec­tion, se­duc­tion- some of the show was a bit cliched and even off-putting, since so many of the char­ac­ters were un­faith­ful.

Sina­tra may have been a croon­er with plen­ty to say about lust and de­sire, and Ve­gas may be built on those very emo­tions. But the ul­ti­mate end and be­gin­ning, what we deeply want as an au­di­ence made up most­ly of cou­ples, should be ob­vi­ous: love.

Sina­tra Dance With Me is play­ing Mon­day through Sat­ur­day at 7:30 p.m each evening, and tick­ets run $69 to $89.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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