The Marquis Theatre where the new Twyla Tharp adventure into combining dance and pre-recorded Sinatra oldies “Come Fly Away” is holding forth has either been morphed into a mighty big lounge imported from Las Vegas complete with big band and vocalist or a mighty big cruise ship where the destination is unknown and the entertainment value questionable. Take your pick. Either way, “Come Fly Away” misses the boat and you do not have a chance to win any sort of jackpot at the slots that are nowhere to be found.
Slits, yes. And relentless spins and leaps and lifts. With about as much sex appeal as a wet sock. Throws and daring do catches. And slides. All trademarks of Ms. Tharp’s choreography. Terpsichore herself must be wincing at the repetitiveness of it all. But please do not blame the dancers. They are magnificent.
This not so bright idea was concocted and directed by Ms. Tharp. So if anyone is to blame. Guess who? We are introduced to a series of stereotypical characters that are very loosely connected by the fact that they are in this lounge – meeting and dancing and mingling and changing partners – once in a while. There are four couples and a chorus line of back up dancers that seem to have drifted in from an old Jackie Gleason/June Taylor dance routine. In Act II they get down and dirty. Shirts and shoes are tossed aside. Hair is let down and the dancers let loose. Unfortunately it only worsens.
The bartender is a shy guy with a bright red bow tie and just happens to be the star of this production. Charlie Neshyba-Hodges steals the limelight. (But only at the evening performances as there is a completely different cast Wednesday and Saturday matinee). He is charismatic and a fabulous dancer with a comic sensibility and athleticism that all but takes your breath away. He is part Chaplin and part Scott Hamilton (champion figure skater). And all dancer. If you decide to see “Come Fly Away” Mr. Neshyba-Hodges would be the main reason to go. He outshines even Ol’ Blue Eyes. And manages to steal the heart of the audience, seemingly without much effort.
Another plus is Karine Plantadit. A tigress. A wild woman who has a fantastic body, a mega watt smile and is just plain fearless in her interpretations of Ms. Tharp’s routines. Her partner is the very masculine and handsome Keith Roberts.
With over thirty Sinatra gems being sung you might want to sit back, close your eyes and just listen. But then you would miss seeing Charlie Neshyba-Hodges. And he must be seen despite the Las Vegas type surroundings which include the requisite turning disco ball and a portrait of Mr. Sinatra that brings to mind those kitschy portraits painted on black velvet that glow in the dark. www.comeflyaway.com
Note: I would love to see Mr. Neshyba-Hodges in the Susan Stroman ballet “Double Feature” He would be a knockout!