Anthony J. Piccione
New York Critic
Dancing! Romance! Ghosts!
To some theatergoers, the above combination is certainly one that is bound to lead to a night of entertainment that they will love. I will confess, neither ghost stories nor romances are exactly the genres that excite me most, when heading out for a night of theatre. However, not even I can deny that the recent production of Shadows is one of the most impressive and sophisticated musicals to premiere in the NYC indie theatre scene within the past year or so.
To characterize this show as purely a work of theatre wouldn’t do it justice. A self-described “dance musical”, the show is a cross between musical theatre and straight-up ballet, rotating back and forth between the two, over various scenes, and it generally excels in both areas.
In terms of the acting, both Janine Divita and John Arthur Greene turn in energetic and vocally impressive performances as Claire and Alex, respectively, and display enough romantic and physical chemistry that’s bound to keep the audience at least mildly interested. Even more impressive are the ballet scenes, featuring a talented dance ensemble – one that includes former principle dancer at the American Ballet Theatre Irina Dvorovenko, among others – performing choreography from creator Joey McKneely that is truly beautiful and captivating.
The real highlights of this show, however, are the more technical production elements, especially the perfect set design of Sheryl Liu and the colorful and haunting lighting design of Brian Nason. Very rarely do I encounter indie productions that are so stunning, they are almost of Broadway caliber. However, if the quality of the lighting and set design is any indication, I wouldn’t be too shocked if we find this show eventually heading in an even more commercial direction, in the not too distant future.
The only downside is that the plot – revolving around a steamy affair in a haunted house – is somewhat cliché, and it’s hard to feel much sympathy for either of the lead characters by the end of the show. Nonetheless, while romances involving ghosts may be a somewhat tired theme, in my personal opinion, I acknowledge that it’s still one that appeals to a target audience which certainly would enjoy this musical. In any case, if you’re someone who loves seeing musical theatre for the sake of seeing a stunning visual spectacle, this is bound to be a show that you’ll enjoy seeing. It was certainly worth my time seeing, and if you have time to check out one of its final performances, be sure to do so.
“Shadows” stars Shara Nova, Julia Frodahl, Kyreed Jordan, Omar Nieves, Irina Dvorovenko, Waldermar Quinones-Villanueva, Janine Divita, John Arthur Greene, Nickemil Concepcion, and Naomi Kakuk.
“Shadows” was created by Randall David Cook and Joey McKneely with music and lyrics by Edison Woods, Maxim Moston and Karen Biskho, featuring direction and choreography by Joey McKneely, music direction by Luke Williams, set design by Sheryl Liu, lighting design by Brian Nason, costume design by Christopher Vergara, sound design by Joe Devico, assistant director Jessica Francis Fichter, assistant choreographer Jacquelyn Scarfidi Allsopp, stage manager Leah V. Pye, and press representation from Jay Michaels Arts and Entertainment.
“Shadows” runs at the Connelly Theatre, located at 220 E 4th Street, New York, NY, from November 29th-December 15th. For more information, please visit www.shadowsdancemusical.com.