Locus Media and Decent Productions
(Lion Theatre Website)
Written and Performed by
Directed by Bob Degus
(Theatre Row Website)
410 West 42nd Street
Producers: Sage Snakechalmer,
Alexandra Angelique Leeper, Bob Degus
Acting Coach/Creative Consultant: Marishka S. Phillips
Exec. Producer and Legal/Creative Consultant:
Sam P. Israel
Style Direction: Laurie Schecter
Choreography: Francesca Harper
Original Score: Brian Ralston
Lighting Designer: Joshua Rose
Sound Designer: Lisa K. Fowle
Production Designer: Abigail Benavides
Press Representatives: Media Blitz, Workhouse Publicity
General Manager: Rachel McMullin
Marketing: Grapeseed Media
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 21, 2013
This is not a play, but rather a media event. Private Dancer, written and performed, live and on film, by Sage Snakechalmer, directed by Bob Degus, and choreographed by Francesca Harper, is noted as a study of Rita Hayworth. On immediately returning from the event, I researched Ms. Hayworth online, in an effort to get closer to her actual biography. I felt a compelling need for a re-do, to see a new media event with biographical-historical clips, given the strongly synthesized context tonight. Ms. Snakechalmer’s production at the Lion Theatre, a benefit for the NY Alzheimer’s Association, is a worthy start; maybe a work in progress. The filmed segment is a Hitchcock-like image of the inner mind and thought process, perhaps as Ms. Hayworth became more and more wracked with Alzheimer’s. A winding staircase and violent imagery exacerbated the horror-film analogy.
Ms. Hayworth, known for romantic song-and-dance comedies, like “You Were Never Lovelier” (1942), in which she was partnered by Fred Astaire, was an extraordinary dancer. Ms. Snakechalmer, tonight, danced about the stage with great effort. In the next incarnation of this work, I would recommend hiring a professional dancer to assume the choreography, as Ms. Snakechalmer is more suited to acting and dialogue. To dance on any stage in New York, even at Theatre Row, requires a certain level of proficiency. The director and choreographer should have known this. Brian Ralston’s original score is interesting, and Joshua Rose’s lighting is adequate. Laurie Schechter’s “style direction” may refer to a large mirror and a fur piece (worn by Ms. Snakechalmer). Lisa K. Fowle’s sound design did enable the audience in the small theater to comprehend, through acoustics, all that was relevant. I assume sets and costumes were a collaboration of Ms. Snakechalmer and Ms. Schechter, as neither was specifically noted. Props were minimal (e.g. phone and table), except in the filmed sequences.
A docudrama about Ms. Hayworth, even a docudrama about Alzheimer’s, could be riveting, but a fantasy film with onstage speech and movement, with no cohesive context or historical detail, was inadequate. Yet, the concept is worthy for future re-incarnations. Maybe bring in a film professor to introduce clips, with Ms. Snakechalmer describing a scene or two, with some nuanced analysis. Marishka S. Phillips is listed as “acting coach/creative consultant”. Producing an event with a professional actor, dancer, and filmmaker/editor would have had a different result.
Sage Snakechalmer as Rita Hayworth
in "Private Dancer"
Courtesy of Elle Elle Muliarych