Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Caldwell Theatre: Vices, A Love Story (5 reviews)

Holley Shunkey & Albert Blaise Cattafi
Caldwell Theatre Company's reprise production of Vices: A Love Story went into previews on November 7, and opened on November 11, 2010. 
The most exciting theatrical event to hit South Florida in years returns. Fueled by innovative dancing and driven by distinct and eclectic music, Vices… proclaimed its originality every step of the way. The Palm Beach Post declared it as the #1 show of 2009. If you missed it the first time, or if you’re dying to share it with friends, now is the final chance before it takes the rest of the world by storm.
Caldwell premiered Vices back in July 2009, as a summer show.  Demand from snowbird subscribers (who aren't around in summer) was so high that the company re-mounted it.

Clive Cholerton directed a cast that includes Holly Shunkey, Carlos L. Encinias, Lara Janine, Albert Blaise Cattafi, Danielle Lee Greaves, and Will Lee-Williams.  Choreography by A.C. Cuilla.

Hap Erstein reviewed for The Palm Beach Post: is a pleasure to find that the initial encounter was not a hallucination, but a solidly entertaining contemporary tale of romance conveyed largely through dance.
And what expressive, steamy moves they are. Choreographer AC Ciulla collaborates with a pair of young, lithe, athletic dancers – Holly Shunkey and Albert Blaise Cattafi – to physicalize the first frisky evening of a blossoming relationship. Do not arrive late to Vices at the risk of missing a terrific, sensuous, gymnastic pas de deux from these two unnamed characters...
If Vices: A Love Story has a shortcoming, it is that it runs short at 75 intermissionless minutes. But how refreshing to be left wanting more as opposed to frequently checking your watch .
Bill Hirshman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
If you saw the Caldwell Theatre Company’s world premiere musical Vices: A Love Story a year ago, rest assured the reprise is as sultry and sensual as you remember.

What worked before works even better now; what didn’t work still makes you scratch your head.
Director Clive Cholerton and choreographer AC Ciulla, freed from the pressure of building the piece under deadline in the rehearsal hall, have created a sleeker, smoother version of last season’s popular success.
While this new edition is essentially the same production with scores of tweaks, it’s more polished, more self-assured to the point that you might think some of the material is new. The cast moves with more confidence; the singers deliver the music with more verve. The sets, lights, costumes and especially Sean Lawson’s projections have been spruced up as if everyone had time to do it the way they wanted to originally.
Nowhere is the extra topspin that Cholerton has gotten from the cast more noticeable than in the work of Shunkey, a lithe gamin dancer who gives an evocative acting performance as she weaves and writhes. The way her face lights up with lust, joy and sadness is hypnotic. She was stunning in the original incarnation... But now she simply inhabits the part.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
This slender, contemporary musical could have been a case of too many cooks in the rehearsal room. Instead, it became (and remains) a triumph for all involved.
...thanks to the work of Cholerton, Ciulla and musical directors Eric Alsford and Caryl Ginsburg Fantel, the cast functions as a seamlessly talented ensemble, though each performer makes the most of his or her many chances to shine.
Shunkey and Cattafi are both mesmerizing, dramatic dancers able to clearly communicate the nuances of the story line.
Along with scene- and theme-setting projections by Sean Lawson, the singers provide context. Together and in impressive solos, they cover a wide stylistic range, from torch songs to faux Gilbert and Sullivan, from a Manhattan Transfer-style scat to the return-to-disco Do You Mind If I Smoke? All four have sung on or off Broadway, and as the show unfolds, their powerful voices grow ever stronger.

Vices: A Love Story could still use some tinkering to strengthen its transitions, and though its score is impressive, not every number is a gem. But seldom will you find a show that makes late autumn feel quite this hot -- in South Florida or anywhere.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
Give thanks to Susan Draus, Everett Bradley (he performed the brilliant “Some Like It” at this year's Carbonell Awards Show), Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid who wrote the music and Heitzman and Reid who wrote the story. And give thanks, too, to director Clive Cholerton who brought the show back to open Caldwell's winter season.
The erotically electric dancing by Albert Blaise Cattafi and Holly Shunkey (she won the 2010 Carbonell for Best Actress in a Musical for this show in its previous incarnation) is the stem around which Vices revolves, tracing their relationship through first meeting, seduction, marriage, temptation and heartbreak. Choreographer AC Ciulla also won a 2010 Carbonell for his work here.
The story may sound ordinary but the rocket presentation is extraordinary. There are twenty musical numbers featuring Cattafi and Shunkey joined by Carlos L. Encinias, Danielle Lee Greaves, Lara Janine and Will Lee-Williams. All sing and dance well. Each have solo numbers and here they shine...
John LaRiviere wrote for Talkin' Broadway:
Both Shunkey and Cattafi are so present as actors in their dancing, and as one with the rest of the cast, that one can forget that the dancers aren’t actually saying the lines spoken and sung around them. Director Clive Cholerton, choreographer AC Cuilla, and the cast of Vices: A Love Story have deftly woven together the acting and staging of this show to create dance that springs from emotion and songs that feel organically tied to the dance.
It is difficult to take one's eyes off dancer Holly Shunkey. At a state of rest, her body is already a work of art sculpted by her craft. In motion, her lines are all strength and beauty. She is blessedly partnered by the equally talented Albert Blaise Cattafi. His dancing is fresh and masculine. Individually they each have the "it" factor so many technically gifted dancers lack. They both know how to be entirely present in the moment and how to act with their whole body without ever speaking. Shunkey has a wistful, introspective quality, while Cattafi brings a sense of humor and playfulness to their story. Together they dance with extraordinary passion and a fearless commitment to each other and to the choreography. Theirs is an achingly beautiful performance not easily forgotten and certainly not to be missed.
Vices: A Love Story plays at the Caldwell Theatre through December 12, 2010.

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