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Falling in Love with “Freddie Falls in Love”

by Bonnie Rosenstock
July 26, 2019
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
“Freddie Falls in Love” is an effusive, captivating 70-minute dance narrative that will leave you wanting to dance in the aisles and hug the person you’re with or any nearby audience member. It was directed and choreographed by Emmy-nominated choreographer Al Blackstone (for TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” and former “Wicked” cast member) and featured Matt Doyle (“The Book of Mormon,” “War Horse”) and Melanie Moore (“So You Think You Can Dance,” 2011 Season 8 winner, “Hello Dolly!,” ”Finding Neverland,” “Fiddler on the Roof”), reprising their lead roles as star-crossed lovers. It originally premiered at the Signature Theater in 2016, and except for these two phenomenal dancers, the 12-member dance ensemble is brand new and fabulous. The show will run for two weeks at The Joyce (July 23-August 4). Aside from a few recorded spoken lines and well-acted mime gestures, it is all Broadway-style dance, set to a wonderful 22-song play list from various genres and eras that conveys the characters’ emotions and drives the action. The simple set consists of large utilitarian moveable blocks that are placed horizontally, vertically or piled on top of one another in configurations as needed.

The story relates Freddie’s journey of finding and losing love, heartbreak, healing and finally coming to love himself. Freddie (Doyle) meets Moore, who is everything he hoped for. They dance some lovely, loving duets. The smitten Freddie asks her to marry him, engagement ring at the ready. In a moving, tour de force solo to Fiona Apple’s “Why Try to Change Me Now” the marriage-averse Moore agonizes over what to do, but finally leaves the ring on a block with a chalk note, “I’m Sorry” in big letters. Freddie goes into a tailspin, and through several dance-mime numbers, some comic with many pizza boxes, and some emotionally fraught, his friends try to cheer him up. One recognizable scene is his friends’ feeble attempts at yoga as a way for him to find serenity. His gal pal, the delightful Betty Weinberger, takes another route and introduces him to violent video games in an attempt to exorcise his hurt, which transform into a hard-driving dance with intimidating men in helmets and flashing lights. Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” features three men in wigs, appearing one after the other, as Freddy attempts to date, but always haunted by his lost love. He even proposes to the wonderful Jason Williams, to his friends’ and audience approbation. There’s a serio-comic sequence of Freddy’s ex getting engaged, married, having two children, feeling trapped and getting divorced, accompanied by Marlene Dietrich’s sultry, deep-throated rendition of “Makin’ Whoopie.” (Is there any other way for the Divine Ms. D to sing?)

Freddie takes a trip to Paris, where he has all kinds of adventures. We know it’s Paris because with typical French attitude, two men are dangling cigarettes from their mouths and three women are wearing berets, and musicians Mike Brun on guitar and Jo Lampert on accordion serenade us while a miniature lit-up version of the Eiffel Tower is in the background. There is a smoke-filled cabaret scene, in which the ensemble hoofs it to a steamy, smoke-filled jazzy version of “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” (Live) by the Hot Sardines. The amazing lead dancer, Kolton Krouse, in spiked black boots and flying red fringes along his arms, is straight out of the other “Cabaret.” The leggy Chantelle Good plays Freddie’s Paris love interest, whose awesome fast-paced solo featured hairpin spins, turns and grace galore.

To Doyle, Moore and the entire cast, a life-affirming toast: L’chaim – To Life.

Photo © & courtesy of James Jin

Photo © & courtesy of James Jin

Photo © & courtesy of James Jin

Photo © & courtesy of James Jin

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