A review by Suzanne Birrell.
Wow-wow-wow! Totally Amazing.
I had never been aware of Anais Nin before seeing the new dance opera that opened this past weekend at the Greenway Court Theatre. Conceived and created by Janet Roston and Cindy Shapiro the Dance /opera is a must see for everyone and anyone who loves art, music, and dance.
(Right: Marisa Matthews and Micaela De Pauli. Photos by Barry Weiss)
Anais Nin was an artist/writer who challenged conventions by living her life with complete personal freedom and wrote about it. She lived through the 20's, experienced the café culture of France, survived, World War and moved to Los Angeles of the 40s where she died. Through it all she wrote her thoughts and experiences in her journal. In the story presented to us on stage, we come to know her with empathy and admire her daring do.
You don't have to know anything about Anais Nin at all to appreciate and get the story of her life. Music/Composer Cindy Shapiro and Director/Choreographer Janet Roston coupled with the Projection Designer Joe LaRue have teamed up to create a masterpiece of storytelling. The audience was on their feet before the performers hit the stage for their final bow.
Marisa Matthews stars as the vocalist/narrator eternal Anais. A beautiful voice, a dynamic presence who merged into the dances and cast a spell with her performance. The songs have jazzy melodies and harmonies with a rock opera feel. The rhythms have an infectiousness you would expect from a dance piece. Micaela De Pauli who danced as Anais, Michael Quiett as Henry Miller (also assistant choreographer), Quinn Jaxon as Hugh Guiler, Mathew D'Amico as her Father, Jacqueline Hinton and Denise Woods made up the cast and all were strong and graceful and beautiful to watch. The choreography by Janet Roston was both brilliant and daring.
The story is told through narration of song and dance as well as printed words artistically projected on the screen-sometimes, maybe a little too artistically. When the letters dropped into the sentence, one had to choose whether to watch the dancers or the screen. For the most part, however, the letters added to the show - especially the refreshing use of handwriting belonging to Anais The lighting was very much a part of the drama-especially in the scene about the war. (Note: Strobe lights are used -there is no warning in the program). The use of the silk as bed, bridal veil, spider web, and snow was very innovative and effective. The costumes by Allison Dillard were both beautiful and erotic and in the café where men were women and women were men they were downright were fun. The use of chairs made up most of the sets and the scene changes were elegantly performed. As the story flowed from chapter to chapter of her life, some of the scene endings were so riveting that no one applauded, not wanting to break the mood.
The music and harmonies were prerecorded and the quality of the recordings was outstanding although I would absolutely love to see this show on a large stage with live musicians and harmony singers.
Don't miss this show. Get you tickets today because it is selling out fast.
Through September 18, Friday, Saturday, and Sundays
Greenway Court Theater
544 N Fairfax Ave,
Los Angeles, CA 90036
The show is very erotic and not suitable for young audiences.