So I went into the new revue of Richards Rodgers and Lorenz Hart songs, Ten Cents a Dance, with reservations. This production was previously staged at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in August and is enjoying a month long run at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. While the "story" of this show is somewhat bare bones, and could be interpreted in various ways, it is one that makes you think and one that I'm still thinking about several days later. So, while i did enjoy it, I think it still needs some additional work to give it slightly more focus before moving on to future productions.
|Malcom Gets and the five "Miss Jones' "|
Ten Cents a Dance has a cast of six people, one man and five women. When the show begins, the man (Malcolm Gets) slowly descends into the room down a spiral staircase. The room below is somewhat dark but has various smaller spaces all around the back that are all filed with musical instruments with a grand piano in the center of the room. The man almost doesn't want to approach the piano at first, as if he is afraid of what will happen if he begins to play. But when he does sit down and plays, you know he's been here before and that what unfolds has happened before, maybe even many times, but he is still afraid of what is going to happen once his fingers hit the piano keys.
|Donna McKechnie, Diana DiMarzio, Jessica Tyler Wright, |
Jane Pfitsch and Lauren Molina
|Molina and McKechnie|
The cast is more than capable of not only singing the material but playing various instruments. While Gets mainly only plays the piano, his playing is rapturous and emotional. And, like the rest of the cast, he so encompasses his character that you completely feel for him and for whatever happened to him and Miss Jones The five women while given somewhat less to do then Gets, also pour everything they have into their parts. Donna McKechnie is the star here, having won a Tony award for her performance in the original cast of A Chorus Line. She is the eldest of the five "Miss Jones" and Doyle often has her close to whichever woman is singing a solo, and many times McKechnie mouths the words to the song the other woman is singing, to show that she remembers that moment in her life. It is a very effective directorial choice. The rest of the women, while being better musicians than McKenchie, are still very good singers. Lauren Molina as the youngest of the Miss Jones' perfectly captures the youth and joy of love while Diana DiMarzio, Jessica Tyler Wright and Jane Pfitsch as the middle Miss Jones' show more raw emotions around the pain of love. McKechnie seems more resolved and even joyous, not only at seeing and singing with Gets but also at looking at her younger selves and so it seems she has gotten over and accepted whatever happened between her and Gets.
|The set is pretty amazing|
Still, Ten Cents a Dance is a haunting musical, with lush arrangements, an extremely talented cast and superb direction by Doyle. So, even with it's couple of shortcomings, I'd recommend it for the slightly more adventurous theatre goers out there. The show is playing though October 9th.
McCarter Theatre Site
Behind the scenes with the cast before the Williamstown production: