by Jody Key – Speakeysie Managing Editor — August 29. 2021
ATLANTA — Theater is back and Aurora Theatre’s production of SONG AND DANCE by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is a great way to return to live entertainment. I had the pleasure of seeing this show on opening weekend, and the long awaited return of shows to the main stage was worth the wait.
One of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser known musicals, SONG AND DANCE premiered on London’s West end in 1982 and moved on to Broadway in 1985, giving Bernadette Peters a Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical. This is a musical in two acts–ACT I, “SONG” also known as TELL ME ON A SUNDAY chronicles a young British woman’s life and misadventures in love in New York City and Hollywood. Act II “DANCE” is choreographed to Variations, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber for his cellist brother Julian, and based on the A Minor Caprice No. 24 by Paganini.
Atlanta favorite India Tyree plays the young British woman, Emma, in Aurora’s ACT I “SONG”. The vocal demands of this first act are off the charts, and Tyree delivers them beautifully and flawlessly. We follow Emma through four relationships, starting with a break up, then moving on to Hollywood to follow a producer who promises love and a green card, but doesn’t deliver. She moves back to New York where she tries a younger man, then a married man on for size, but neither of them seem to fit. Each time a New relationship begins, she’s giddy with possibility only to feel disappointed at the demise of each relationship. Even so, she’s resilient and able to pick herself up and move on. India Tyree spends almost the entire first act on stage, tirelessly singing a total of 27 songs with sprinklings of perfect harmonies by vocal ensemble members Lamont J. Hill, Isa Martinez, Candace Mumphrey. India has knack for connecting with the audience and drawing us into the story. We find ourselves rooting for Emma, and hoping she will finally find the love she’s searching for.
The musicians are also on stage, which gives the show a lively concert atmosphere. It’s always a treat to have live accompaniment, and even more so to see the musicians on stage. I enjoyed watching them play as much as following Tyree along with the vocal and dance ensemble.
ACT II – DANCE — features cellist Noah Johnson and centers around the story of a man and woman working through their relationship and coming together at the end. Angela Harris and Leah Boresow Goover have choreographed a mesmerizing depiction which the dance ensemble executes beautifully with an amazing barrage of leaps, spins, and lifts. While the music is based on Paganini, it seems to present a variety of genres; from classical to jazz; from futuristic to funk. The title VARIATIONS is definitely appropriate. I was especially impressed with Noah Johnson’s interpretation of the music, he is an amazing virtuoso, and Aurora and it’s audience is fortunate to benefit from his talent.
It was wonderful to be in the theater again, and the house was fairly full. I felt perfectly safe attending the show. Aurora has put COVID mitigation strategies in place: masks are required and patrons must show proof of vaccination or COVID negative PCR within 72 hours or antigen within 6 hours. They have hand sanitizer available, use advance cleaning procedure, and have updated their HVAC system including the addition of 20 ionization units and outside air intake was increased on the 17 existing RTU’s to provide cleaner, fresher air.
This show is SPEAKEYSIE recommended and tickets can be purchased at https://www.auroratheatre.com/productions-and-programs/view/song-and-dance/.
The entire cast and creative team did an amazing job on this show.