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Jennifer Wesnousky
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American Theatre of Actors' Chernuchin Theatre
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Let's Speak Tango

by Jennifer Wesnousky
April 28, 2007
American Theatre of Actors' Chernuchin Theatre
314 W. 54th St.


New York, NY 10019
212-868-6666
a dance theatre play
At the onset of the dance theatre play, "Let's Speak Tango," the production's three tango dancing couples caress one another in slow motion before exploding into an improvised medley of classic tango and milonga moves. The six skilled tangueros would serve as a thematic device to demonstrate a level on which human souls can often communicate much more effectively than with the verbal vehicles that so often lead people to mutual misunderstanding or, to the disappointment which often accompanies understanding.

Cut to a prospective couple, Giorgio (Carlo Magaletti, who also directs the show) and Elisabeth (Katja Lechthaler), whose enticing tango leaves them mutually enthralled. In an ensuing scene in which the actors display exceptional comedic timing, the couple's failure to comprehend one another on verbal terms (he speaks only Italian while she knows German and English) leaves them increasingly and mutually charmed.

As the story progresses, the couple's perception of each other's feelings, nuances and actions ironically decreases as Giorgio's English skills increase, leaving them feeling like strangers under a shared roof. Despite the intermittent presence of the tango dancers, whose use of props such as brooms seem to suggest the protagonists' need for psychological cleansing as their frustration with themselves and one another escalates, the lingering memory of their first tango, in which they moved together in the moment with speechless comprehension, feels like nothing more than an increasingly distant and intangible past.

Choreographer Valeria Solomonoff and Assistant Choreographer Beverly Durand create effectively beautiful yet simplistic tango movement, interspersed with more modern, crowd-pleasing lifts, lines and jumps. Dressed in muted khakis, greens and whites, the dancers' dress and demeanors always support and never compete with the actors or one another. That being said, the onstage chemistry between the elegant and petite couple, Ana Padrón and Diego Blanco, as well as Heather Gehring's endless extensions frequently steal the scene.

As the production proceeds, the couple's squabbling feels a bit redundant at times. But, then, that's probably part of the point. Attempts at further clarification via verbal communication pale in comparison to the mutual understanding inherent in our first tango. Or is it the other way around? Perhaps the harmony experienced through a tango is merely an illusion, a mask we sell ourselves to deny our lack of ability to ever truly understand one another, or a lack of desire to. Either way, "Let's Speak Tango" provokes its audience to ask that and similarly pertinent questions, leaving us with the conclusion that the tango can be a much more beautiful and comfortable language to speak.

THE CAST

Giorgio: Carlo Magaletti

Elisabeth: Katja Lechthaler

Prof. Jeff Pillet Mechanic: Fausto Lombardi

Tango Dancers: Diego Blanco, Hernan Brizuela, Miwa Kaneko, Ana Padron, Walter Perez, Heather Gehring OR Valeria Solomonoff

THE PRODUCTION CREW

Director: Carlo Magaletti

Choreographer: Valeria Solomonoff

Assistant Director: Tatiana Gelfand

Assistant Choreographer: Beverly Durand

Set Design: Miha Glockenspiel

Lighting Design: William J. Growney

Costume Design: Jillian Tully

Visual/Sound Effects: Mauro de Trizio

Press Representative: O&M Co.

Ticketing Services: Smart Tix

Production: Valetango, Corp.
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