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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Movin' Out National Tour at the Paramount

Also see David's review of Too Darn Hot

Movin' Out
David Gomez and
Holly Cruikshank

I never knew I was a Billy Joel fan until I saw Movin' Out at the Paramount. Though my heart (and ears) belong to Broadway, I realized that such Joel songs as "Uptown Girl", "We Didn't Start the Fire", "She's Got a Way", "Just the Way You Are", and "The Longest Time" had been favorite easy listening songs which I had never specifically associated with the singer/songwriter. And there were many less familiar tunes that caught my ear at the performance. But as I had never seen the still popular Broadway edition of the show, I had no idea that the songs were all sung by the onstage pianist, while a terrific dance ensemble attempts to tie a story together from the song lyrics. I think for Billy Joel or Twyla Tharp devotees this might be enough. It wasn't quite for me, though I found the show easy to take and (thanks to the dancers) sometimes exhilarating.

The show's thin plotline takes place on Long Island in the 1960s, with high school friendships and relationships about to be altered or ended as a result of the boys going off to fight in the Vietnam War. The second act depicts their attempts to rebuild their lives, restore old relationships, heal old wounds and, well, move on. Twyla Tharp's choreography is demanding and requires virtuoso dance skills, but it is also repetitive and reminiscent of her work on the film version of Hair, with nods to Bob Avian's staging of Miss Saigon. While it is undeniable that opening night soloists Ron Todorowski, Holly Cruikshank, David Gomez, Julieta Gros, Matthew Dibble, John Carroll and a disciplined ensemble earned many a hand in the dance numbers, this show is much more a dance concert than a truly theatrical experience, with the pleasant but colorless lead vocals by pianist Darren Holden (who alternates Matt Wilson) who is hardly in a league with the voice of Mr. Joel himself. His own one-of-a-kind vocal dynamism is sorely missed in the course of the performance.

The onstage band members offer solid instrumental and vocal support, and the visual end of the show is well-served by Santo Loquasto's spare but stylish scenic design, Donald Holder's flashy lighting, and Suzy Benzinger's attractive and period perfect costumes.

I am always glad to know that Broadway and road musical theatre houses are filled with hit shows that have obviously found an appreciative audience. So thanks to the creators of Movin' Out for providing a satisfying theatrical meal for many. For me, it was more of an evening of light appetizers.

The National Tour of Movin' Out at The Paramount Theatre, 9th & Pine Street in downtown Seattle, runs through Sunday June 20. For more information, go to www.theparamount.com.


Photo: Joan Marcus



- David-Edward Hughes



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