Under the direction of Wayne Cilento (Mike in the original A Chorus Line and choreographer of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Who’s Tommy), American Dance Machine for the 21st Century (ADM21) has returned to New York City. Legendary choreographer Lee Theodore, established the original American Dance Machine in 1976 and the group thrived, until her death in 1987. Dormant until 2012, until Artistic Director Nikki Feirt Atkins renamed the group ADM21 and produced new dance concerts recreating what should never be lost.
Artists such as Donna McKechnie, Chita Rivera, Robert La Fosse, Mia Michaels, Marge Champion, Nikki Harris and Pamela Sousa, have reconstructed the original choreography of Jack Cole, Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain, Tommy Tune’s Grand Hotel and Will Rodger’s Follies, Billy Wilson’s “Sweet Georgia Brown” from Bubbling Brown Sugar, Jerome Robbins with “Cool’ from West Side Story and “Mr. Monotony” from Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Mia Michael’s “Calling You” from So You Think You Can Dance, Michael Bennett’s “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises, “Music and the Mirror” and “One” from A Chorus Line, Gillian Lynne’s “White Cat Solo from Cats, Bob Fosse’s “Manson Trio from Pippin and of course, two numbers from director Wayne Cilento’s shows.
Highlights were the airy and angelic Agnes De Mille’s “Dream Ballet” from Oklahoma, which made you realize how truly inventive this choreography was for the time. Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain, fabulously danced by Paloma Gracia-Lee and Rick Faugno. Fauna also excelled in Donald McKayle’s “Fight” from Golden Boy. Susan Stroman’s “Slap That Bass from Crazy for You, allowed the whole company to show off. Justin Prescott and Tommy Scrivens, proved that tap brings down the house in Warren Carlyle’s “Happy as the Day is Long” from After Midnight. Skye Mattox, had Fosse’s moves down to a tee and made me want to see her dance more of one of my favorite choreographer’s numbers.
Lori Ann Ferreri, danced both “Music and the Mirror” and “Turkey Lurkey Time” and though a good dancer, she is not a step above the rest. I would have rather seen Paloma Gracia-Lee, who has the it factor in spades, but when not dancing the lead she sadly marks her movements. I comment on this because I often got to youtube and watch the originals of both these numbers as well as Hullabulo, Grand Hotel, “Tick Tock” from Company and “Whose Got the Pain” from Damn Yankees. I adore well done dance numbers from shows
This company is made up of some of the best dancers on Broadway and is unique as there are all shapes and sizes blending as one. Mr. Cilento, did a wonderful job transitioning each number from place to place. Having watched most of the original numbers, it was a step back onto musical memory lane and it was heart warming. The same was true for my guest.
The orchestra was first rate, but the sound design by Matt Kraus needs to be re-thought as the singing was badly mic’d. Kudos to the costume designer (David C Woolard) and the lighting design (David Grill) as well.
There will never be another Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett or for that matter a Michael Jeter, but this show reminds us of those days when dancers ruled Broadway as did the choreographers who created such awe inspiring works.
American Dance Machine for the 21st Century: The Joyce Theatre, 175 Eighth Avenue, until Jan. 3rd