Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Vices: A Love Story

Holly Shunkey and Albert Blaise Cattafi
Vices: A Love Story makes its triumphant return to Caldwell Theatre Company. This innovative revue features a story by Ilene Reid and Michael Heitzman, and music and lyrics by Ilene Reid, Michael Heitzman, Susan Draus and Everett Bradley. Reid, Heitzman and Bradley received a Grammy nomination for the song "Throw That Girl Around" from the Broadway musical Swing in 1999. In the summer of 2009 Vices: A Love Story had its world premiere at the Caldwell Theatre. The production received eight Carbonell Award nominations. Vices: A Love Story is an exploration, through song and dance, of the fate of a romantic relationship amidst a sea of so many possible vices.

A young romantic couple (Holly Shunkey and Albert Blaise Cattafi), who neither sing nor speak, tell the story of their relationship through dance alone, while four singer/dancers present musical scenes that describe and define the various stages of their relationship. The scenes start off echoing the doubts that accompany the start of a new relationship, and build to focus on the various modern-day vices—such as smoking, drinking, chocolate, work, TV, shopping, plastic surgery, gambling and sex—that threaten to tear the couple apart. Both Shunkey and Cattafi are so present as actors in their dancing, and as one with the rest of the cast, that one can forget that the dancers aren't actually saying the lines spoken and sung around them. Director Clive Cholerton, choreographer AC Cuilla, and the cast of Vices: A Love Story have deftly woven together the acting and staging of this show to create dance that springs from emotion and songs that feel organically tied to the dance.

This one-act show features a live, four-piece band. The songs cross a wide variety of musical styles. The assorted styles of the arrangements are accompanied by scene and costume changes that match. The most difficult ensemble piece, "Type A," is a jazz number that even the Manhattan Transfer would be hard pressed to sing. The projection design adds an interesting additional element to the production value. The sound system has great volume, but, at the performance attended, at times lacked clarity: Almost all of the performers had sung or spoken moments when their words were unintelligible.

Will Lee-Williams (Man #2) performs an impressive and audience pleasing, a cappella, "Some Like It"—tapping and smacking his own body as his rhythmic accompaniment. Danielle Lee Graves (Woman #2) belts out the disco-inspired "Do You Mind if I Smoke?" with the sound of a soulful Chaka Khan. Later in the operetta-inspired spoof "Charge It" she surprisingly emerges with the high notes of a legitimate soprano. The lyric tenor voice of Carlos L. Encinias (Man #1) is at its best in the old-Hollywood inspired "Chocolate," complete with him tapping dancing in silver and brown tails. Lara Janine (Woman #1) vocally shines in the song "Fly" which closes the show.

It is difficult to take one's eyes off dancer Holly Shunkey. At a state of rest, her body is already a work of art sculpted by her craft. In motion, her lines are all strength and beauty. She is blessedly partnered by the equally talented Albert Blaise Cattafi. His dancing is fresh and masculine. Individually they each have the "it" factor so many technically gifted dancers lack. They both know how to be entirely present in the moment and how to act with their whole body without ever speaking. Shunkey has a wistful, introspective quality, while Cattafi brings a sense of humor and playfulness to their story. Together they dance with extraordinary passion and a fearless commitment to each other and to the choreography. Theirs is an achingly beautiful performance not easily forgotten and certainly not to be missed.

Vices: A Love Story will be appearing through December 12, 2010, at the Caldwell Theatre. The Caldwell Theatre Company is a professional theatre company hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors. The Caldwell Theatre Company is designated by the State of Florida as a Cultural Institution and receives funding from the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, the Florida Arts Council and the Division of Cultural Affairs. The Caldwell Theatre Company is located in the Count De Hoernle Theatre at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Florida. Performance times are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For information and/or tickets you may contact them by phone at 561-241-7432 or online at

Female Dancer: Holly Shunkey*
Male Dancer: Albert Blaise Cattafi*
Woman #1: Lara Janine*
Man #1: Carlos L. Encinias*
Woman #2: Danielle Lee Graves*
Man #2: Will Lee-Williams*

Director: Clive Cholerton
Musical Director/Accompanist: Eric Alsford, Caryl Ginsburg Fantel
Choreographer: A C Ciulla+
Scenic Design: Tim Bennett
Lighting Design: John D. Hall
Sound Design: Dustin Hamilton
Projection Design: Sean Lawson
Costume Design: Alberto Arroyo
Stage Manager: Robert Herrle*

*Indicates member of the Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

+Indicates member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers society.

Photo: Sean Lawson

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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