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Arts & Entertainment Preview - July 1998

Dance and Theater
B Y   N A N C Y   D A L V A   &   J O H N   I S T E L

The World's Stage

Adam Resurrected

The title of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, like that of its companion comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, refers to an auspicious day in the Elizabethan calendar, and a cause for celebration. Masks are donned, identities are hidden, and love is lost and won. Lincoln Center Theater's Twelfth Night promises to be a dreamy event indeed: Nicholas Hytner's cast features the Oscar-winner Helen Hunt as Viola, Kyra Sedgwick as Olivia, and the stage stalwarts Brian Murray and Philip Bosco as comic relief. The set designer Bob Crowley plans to outfit the Vivian Beaumont stage with a water-filled pool in which the performers will frolic. Other offerings in Lincoln Center Festival '98 (July 7-26; 212-721-6500) won't need a pool to make a splash. Theatre de Complicite, the mesmerizing London-based ensemble that floored audiences two years ago with The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol, revives The Street of Crocodiles, based on the diaries of a Holocaust victim. Israel's Gesher Theatre contributes a harrowing Holocaust play as well: Adam Resurrected, which centers on a circus clown who survives a concentration camp by entertaining inmates on their way to the gas chamber. The Gesher also brings Joshua Sobol's Village, a lyrical meditation on Palestine before Israeli statehood. Finally, La Fura dels Baus, the spectacle-mad Spanish troupe, puts a cyberspin on Goethe with F@ust: Version 3.0. Featuring everyone from Berlioz to Brian Eno on its soundtrack, the show amplifies Duke Orsino's dictum, "If music be the food of love, play on." --J.I.

Summer, When it Sizzles

Tango meets modern dance

Just the dance for a sultry night is Paul Taylor's new tango number, called (after its music) Piazzolla Caldera. "You want sex?" Taylor seems to be asking. "I'll give you sex." Taylor being Taylor, the dance is not, as in many of the current popular tango entertainments, a series of actual tangos. Rather, it is an extended riff on the whole essence and idea of the tango -- not merely the form but what informs the form. That is, heat, passion, aggression, seduction, betrayal, desire, and even a touch of death, by means of the swoon and the dying fall. Costumed in full garter-belt-and-black-stockings sleaze by Santo Loquasto, Taylor's women don't so much ham it up as gam and glam it up, with a deeply vulgar and voluptuous plié by Francie Huber the iconic center of the enterprise. The Taylor men, deliciously sinister in their vestigial elements of Buenos Aires chic (picture a black vest over a bare chest), go for broke here, throwing elegance to the wings in favor of machismo. This is a particularly great moment for the company, which -- like any longtime dance group -- moves through various phases as dancers come, grow, and go. It currently achieves the modern-dance ideal: star power harnessed to the greater good of the ensemble. Taylor's dancers create a fabulous unity of impression, yet any one of them can hold the stage solo. Taylor himself -- perennially handsome, diffident, dazzling -- takes to the stage for a curtain call in his good-boy blue blazer and, without trying in the slightest, holds your heart. You can catch The Paul Taylor Dance Company at the venerable Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, in Lee, Massachusetts (June 30 - July 5), with Piazzolla Caldera on one program, and a disturbing new work called The Word on the other; the World Financial Center in New York City (July 7); the American Dance Festival, in Durham, North Carolina (July 9-11); and The Spencer Theater in Alto, New Mexico (July 17-18). --N.D.

On the Waterfront

For the third summer running Chicago hosts a theater festival with fare that is strictly local. Theater on the Lake presents nine professional companies at a rustic venue that in the 1920s was a recovery center for rich kids with tuberculosis. Smack dab off the intersection of Fullerton and Lake Shore Drive, Theater on the Lake is now one of the best theater deals in America. A $60 subscription buys ducats to nine shows presented by a wide range of the city's best companies, performing on successive weeks through the summer (June 23-August 29; 312-742-7995).

Our Town

This year's lineup includes a premiere by the venerable improv company Second City; Our Town, produced by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company; the brazen, anarchic Neo-Futurists, who return with their long-running hit, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind; Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery, produced by the Chicago Theatre Company, devoted to African-American work; and the American Theatre Company's Scapin, an innovative adaptation of Molière. The directors Susan Booth and Curt Columbus act as the festival's artistic scouts, attending seventy-five to a hundred area shows a year in search of the right program. Columbus admits that last year, his first, was "an experiment." But the results demanded a repeat. Now the mission statement has been honed. "The vision is twofold," Columbus says. "To represent the variety of Chicago communities, and to represent Chicago theater as a community." --J.I

Nancy Dalva is the author of Dance Ink: Photographs.

John Istel is a senior editor at Stagebill.

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