Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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Best Theater to Ever Hit Atlanta
‘Come Fly With Me’

2009 October 4
Laura Mead and Charles Neshyba-Hodges, Photo: Greg Mooney

Laura Mead and Charles Neshyba-Hodges, Photo: Greg Mooney

The world premiere of “Come Fly With Me,” conceived and choreographed by Emmy and Tony Award-winner and dancer Twyla Tharp, opened two weeks ago at the Alliance Theatre in preparation for Broadway. The show is already perfect and is some of the best theater I’ve ever seen.

Broadway actors and dancers from top dance companies around the country perform slice-of-life vignettes to vocal recordings of Frank Sinatra and a live band. Many of its musicians actually played with Sinatra.

The show presents four couples in a series of scenes surrounding their courtships, and in some cases, their separations. There’s the young, shy couple (Charlie Neshyba-Hodges and Laura Mead) who meet at a restaurant and are attracted to each other, but they are so inexperienced at courting they stumble and trip over one another. While the couple grows together over a course of songs, Neshyba-Hodges’s performs outstanding acrobatic feats and slapstick comedy, serving as the perfect foil for the prim and proper Mead.

Karine Plantadit and Keith Roberts are the couple with the most volatile relationship. They taunt each other, flirt with others, and continually play the cat-and-mouse game of come close go away. In “That’s Life,” they have a rousing fight. They shove and hit one another, kiss and caress each other, beg for forgiveness, hit again, until finally Roberts throws her across the stage and refuses her advances. On another tune, Plantadit hunches down in a cougar pose, pounces on different men, struts across the stage and is thrown from man to man.

There is heat throughout the show. In “Teach Me Tonight” passion overwhelms the couples. They pair up with their partners and others for sultry encounters in sexual love.

These dancers are among the best in the business—they come from Merce Cunningham, American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey, and New York City Ballet. But Plantadit is a star like no other. She is a sexy vixen who commands the stage with her power, energy and grace.

Plantadit danced in another musical conceived by Tharp, “Movin’ Out,” the Broadway show based on the songs of Billy Joel. “Movin’ Out” was nominated for nine Tony Awards. It won two, one of which Tharp won for best choreography.

Once it gets to Broadway “Come Fly With Me” could also be nominated for one or more Tony Awards.  The dancing, music, acting and choreography are superb.

If you see only one show this year, this is the one to see. It’s not only the best theater I’ve ever seen at the Alliance Theatre, it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen anywhere.

“We’d love to continue finding and producing work of this caliber,” said Susan Booth, artistic director of the Alliance Theatre. “A college kid told his parents he’d trade his Falcons tickets for season tickets to the theatre if they were all this good.”

“Come Fly With Me” runs at the Alliance Theatre through October 11.

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