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Twyla Tharp's "Come Fly Away", A New Musical with Vocals by Sinatra, at the Marquis Theatre
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Twyla Tharp's "Come Fly Away", A New Musical with Vocals by Sinatra, at the Marquis Theatre

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Come Fly Away
A New Musical
(Come Fly Away Website)
Concept and Book by Twyla Tharp
Vocals by Frank Sinatra
(Sinatra Bio)

At the
Marquis Theatre
1535 Broadway

Matthew Stockwell Dibble, Rika Okamoto
Holley Farmer, Karine Plantadit
Laura Mead, Keith Roberts
Charlie Neshyba-Hodges, John Selya

An Ensemble of 17 Actors/Dancers

Conceived, Choreographed, and Directed by Twyla Tharp
Conductor/Piano: Russ Kassoff
Live Music by The Come Fly Away Band
Featured Vocalists: Hilary Gardner, Rosena M. Hill

Scenic Design: James Youmans
Lighting Design: Donald Holder
Costume Design: Katherine Roth
Casting: Stuart Howard,
Amy Schecter, Paul Hardt
Sound Design: Peter McBoyle
Press Agent:
The Hartman Group, Ellen Jacobs Assoc.
Original Music Supervisor: Sam Lutfiyya
Music Supervisor & Music Coordinator: Patrick Vaccariello
Marketing: Scott A. Moore
Creative Consultant: Charles Pignone
Production Executive: Randall A. Buck
Additional Orchestrations & Arrangements:
Don Sebesky, Dave Pierce
Music Coordinator: Patrick Vaccariello
Production Stage Manager: Rick Steiger
Technical Supervisor: David Benken
General Management: The Charlotte Wilcox Company

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 31, 2010

If you love Sinatra, and if you love dance, you should like Twyla Tharp’s new Come Fly Away at the Marquis. I say “should”, because the recorded Sinatra is combined with a great live big band, led by the capable Pianist-Conductor Russ Kassoff. There are couples with stage names, but no significant story. The vignettes occur as romance, romantic trouble, then romance again. This is the synthesized theme of the Sinatra genre, and from “Moonlight Becomes You”, to Nice ‘n Easy”, to “Teach Me Tonight”, to “My Funny Valentine”, we hear Sinatra singing solo, singing with his own recorded orchestras, singing with Russ Kassoff’s big band, and singing duo with the live vocalist, Hilary Gardner. The live musical arrangements are authentic, with elegant improvisations by masters of the genre, like James Chirillo on guitar and John Mosca on trombone. Russ Kassoff plays the Sinatra songs with mesmerizing ease, and Ms. Gardner sings the melodies with cognac-smooth fluidity. The quintessential, athletically driven dance varied from couple to couple, but it was always infused with dynamic swing, jitterbug, or fox-trot.

Keith Roberts (Hank), who was a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, partnered Karine Plantadit (Kate), who was a soloist with the Ailey Company. Theirs was a tormented and propulsive onstage struggle, with Ms. Plantadit’s leaps into Mr. Roberts’ arms and lunges onto the floor. Mr. Roberts was a ladies man extraordinaire, with wild macho gestures, and his stylistic dancing was true to the music. John Selya (Sid), who wowed the crowds in Tharp’s Movin’ Out, and who was also with American Ballet, presented spunky spins and charismatic partnering. The lovely recipient of that partnering was Holley Farmer (Babe), who was a dancer in the Merce Cunningham Company, and her seamless and sultry style contrasted stunningly with Mr. Selya’s electricity. Matthew Stockwell Dibble (Chanos), formerly of the Royal Ballet, partnered Rika Okamoto (Slim), who was a Martha Graham dancer. Tharp’s partnering device, matching ballet and modern training, was genius, as dancers balanced and sparked each other’s performance potential.

The fourth couple, Charlie Neshyba-Hodges (Marty) and Laura Mead (Betsy), a Lar Lubovitch male dancer and an American Repertory Ballet female dancer, brought down the house, as Mr. Neshyba-Hodges is a true acrobat, who leaps to the rafters and rolls onto the floor, his torso like a motor. If wood were water, he’d be swimming. They opened the show with “Moonlight Becomes You”, and their “You Make Me Feel So Young” duet, as well as “My Funny Valentine”, were comical and charged. The ever-powerful “Witchcraft”, danced by Sid, Babe, and Ensemble Men, plus their “Teach Me Tonight’, were sumptuous, sophisticated, and seductive. Hank, Kate, and Ensemble Men danced “Fly Me To the Moon” and Let’s Face the Music and Dance” with willful, wanton, and windswept abandon, but their “One for My Baby” riveted the crowd. Chanos, Slim, and Ensemble danced “Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby” with understated but tantalizing style. James Youmans’ set was a glitzy, retro nightclub, full of flash and flourish, and Katherine Roth’s costumes shimmered and flowed with silky ballroom glitz. The men looked suave, and the women looked sexy. Kudos to Twyla Tharp, and kudos to Sinatra.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at