Way back on May 13, Carol and I got the grandparents to babysit so that we could see a production of the traveling show of the Broadway musical, Movin’ Out, featuring the music of Billy Joel, and choreography by Twila Tharp. We saw the production at the historic Proctor’s Theater in downtown Schenectady. Prior to the show, our real estate agent, who had secured us discounted tickets, also provided his coterie of associates with a complimentary pre-performance buffet featuring a musician who sang pop songs that I knew well.
The trick about Movin’ Out is that it helps a lot if you read the program, particularly the plot synopsis. I did; my wife did not. On paper, the plot seemed, well, paper-thin. My wife, conversely, was quite confused about whether there was actually a plot to this story. Is this merely a dance revue? It felt like that since the dancers would dance to the song, and then people would applaud, at least for the first 3-4 tunes. But as the plot thickened as the threat of war, specifically the Vietnam war, came over the story, there was a much more discernable story arc. So for me, it was much more enjoyable in that second part of the first act and the segued 4-song cycle that began the second act, ending with “Big Man on Mulberry Street,” a song I remember fondly from an episode of the television show Moonlighting.
I must say the musicians and singers were outstanding and the dancers were very good, although the choreography among the males early on seemed a little repetitive, and the songs, though familiar, took on a new energy. So I loved the parts, but I wasn’t always sure then, or even now, how I felt about the whole.