Dance Legends ~ A Salute to Movers & Shakers

Dance Legends

Conceived and Directed by Alex Mustakas
Orchestrations and Vocal Arrangements by Robert Foster
Choreographed by Gino Berti and 8 others
Musical direction by Michael Lerner
Performed by 16 dancers
Vocals by Melissa O’Neil and Mark Cassius
Drayton Entertainment Production
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
August 10 to September 4, 2010
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

They not only think they can dance, They CAN Dance!

So, you’re sitting at home, watching So You Think You Can Dance or reruns of Dancing With The Stars on TV. Turn it off right now and go to Grand Bend to see the real thing!

Dance Legends just opened at Huron Country Playhouse, the newest in Drayton Entertainment’s line-up of Legends shows. Conceived and directed by artistic director Alex Mustakas, this show, like his previous Legends in the series, is going to be another huge hit.

And deservedly so. Never has there been such high energy on the Huron Country Playhouse stage. The 16 dancers give it their all, and the audience loves it. Opening night saw many moments of spontaneous applause and two long, standing ovations. The wow-factor is high!

The audience is offered an education, as well. Prior to the curtain rising, dance trivia and quotes from famous choreographers and dancers are flashed on a big screen. Then, when the show starts, the performers demonstrate the styles of choreographers and dancers as each is named over the stage.

All manner of dance is included: There’s the tap dancing of the Nicholas Brothers and Canadians Blanche and Alan Lund’s Begin the Beguine. There are Fred Astaire numbers with every female he ever danced with…and other famous couples: Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdun or Marge and Gower Champion. If you’re not familiar with the famous dancers and choreographers, don’t worry; the big screen keeps you informed. The playbill is full of background information.

There are numbers from modern dance, ballet, ballroom, and the big time musicals like West Side Story, Carousel and Oklahoma! They salute famous dance movie musicals including Flashdance, Footloose, Dirty Dancing and Saturday Night Fever. The tap dancing throughout is amazing. But the biggest applause is for the Michael Jackson set – the dancing to Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough and Thriller is incredible.

Vocalists Melissa O’Neil and Mark Cassius are excellent, supplying the music to go with the dance. Melissa is a former Canadian Idol and recently played Gabriella in High School Musical. Mark is previously a member of the acappella group, The Nylons, and appeared in Sweet Charity. Melissa is outstanding in the Gene Kelly number, singing Good Morning. She also sings a passionate version of You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and has great fun scat singing while duelling with a tap dancer. Mark gives excellent renditions of House of the Rising Sun and Mr. Bojangles. Together they do a beautiful interpretation of Michael Jackson’s I’ll Be There.

Costumes for this show are exceptional – lots of colour and great variety. The performers don’t have a minute to rest – they are either on stage dancing or back stage changing.

The music is well done, with the seven-person band on stage behind the dancers, allowing the sound to fill the theatre.

This high-energy, glitzy show has an amazing variety of dance, thanks to the team of choreographers. With nine impressive choreographers each taking part, there is exceptional diversity. The lively choreography and superior performance make for a much better entertainment than anything you can find on TV. As they sing in the show, “Who could ask for anything more?”

Dance Legends continues with eight shows a week until September 4 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available at the Huron Country Playhouse box office at 519-238-6000, Drayton Entertainment at 1-888-449-4463, or check out www.draytonentertainment.com.

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