You go, girl.
UPDATE: Now she’s at #2. You go, readers!
After a two-week vacation-related hiatus, the Friday drama column of The Wall Street Journal is open for business again this morning. I reviewed two shows, Slava’s Snowshow and an off-off-Broadway revival of Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane, and liked them both:
Created by Slava Polunin, best known in the U.S. for his work with Cirque du Soleil, “Slava’s Snowshow” is a zany fantasia for five melancholy-looking Russian clowns, several squirt bottles full of water, a dozen or so king-sized balloons, enough fog to shut down an airport and enough confetti to welcome home an astronaut.
I’m acutely allergic to pretentious clownery, so when I read that Mr. Polunin was influenced by Fellini and describes his brand of theater as “counter-Beckett,” I reached for the nearest cream pie. Fortunately, nobody says anything out loud in “Slava’s Snowshow” (nothing intelligible, that is), and whatever Mr. Polunin thinks it all means, the results aren’t even slightly intellectual, though my guess is that American dancegoers will detect a certain resemblance to the quirky comedy of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, minus the dancing. To be sure, the self-contained vignettes that make up “Slava’s Snowshow” are not without their dark moments–especially the bit in which Mr. Bolunin lurches around the stage with a chestful of arrows
I went to Joe’s Pub on Thursday to hear the debut of what may ultimately evolve into something of a vocal supergroup. Voices Collective consists of Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge, Kate McGarry, Lauren Kinhan, and Luciana Souza, all of whom have formidable individual reputations (and one of whom has figured frequently and prominently on this blog right from the start).
Here’s how the Joe’s Pub Web site described them:
Voices Collective is a meeting of some of New York’s most talented and diverse jazz singers…For this evening at Joe’s Pub, they make their world premiere, uniting all their creative talents; presenting original compositions from each member and resetting them for five voices and a trio. Peter Eldridge and Lauren Kinhan are members of New York Voices and also have solo projects of their own in the original song writing arena; Theo Bleckmann is one of the vocal magicians with Meredith Monk and his own genre-bending work; Kate McGarry has been gracing New Yorkers with her soulful timbre for many years; Luciana Souza has been at the Pub in all her incarnations, Brazilian, jazz, and poetry-inspired.
The extreme stylistic diversity of these five singers is part of what made their first performance as a group so thrilling, ranging as it did from a heartfelt version by McGarry of Neil Young’s “Old Man” to an electronically enhanced duet by Bleckmann and the avant-garde jazz guitarist Ben Monder, a member of the trio that accompanied Voices Collective and another of my favorite New York-based instrumentalists. Most of the ensemble vocals, including Souza’s gorgeous unaccompanied setting of Joni Mitchell’s “Shadows and Light,” were sung in skin-tight five-part harmony
“She was definitely the sort of girl who puts her hand over a husband’s eyes, as he is crawling in to breakfast with a morning head, and says: ‘Guess who!'”
P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters