Romance told through dance


Written and choreographed by Tesha Buss
Euphrasy Productions
Midtown International Theatre Festival
Raw Space Theatre L
529 W. 42nd St. (279-4200/
Non-union production (closes Aug. 4)
Review by Elias Stimac

If you are looking for a creative and carefree way to spend an evening with a friend or a loved one, head to the Midtown International Theatre Festival's production of LooLa. Conceived and choreographed by Tesha Buss, the sights, sounds, and subtleties of this dance/music/spoken-word performance piece envelop the viewers and take them on an emotionally intoxicating journey.

We meet the titular heroine LooLa (Amy Hamel) as she is making her way to the big city. LooLa goes from airport to workplace to dance club to audition in a seamless pattern of choreographed moves created by Buss that are filled with intricate interactions and flexible physical comedy. Hamel convincingly progressed from wide-eyed newcomer to confident city girl through the course of the show, ultimately getting it together at work and booking the great gig. Her fastest lesson in growing up, however, comes from finding her true love Tommy (Jason "Jayro" Nious), and then losing him to another woman. Stronger for the experience, and learning that for better or worse "love changes everything," LooLa is now a bonafide adult, ready for any challenge that comes her way.

Hamel was a joyous, genuine leading actress/dancer, and she was surrounded by an equally talented group of versatile performers, including Nious, Judy Golden, Brian Barry, Margot de la Barre, Paul Lane, Casey Jones, Matthew Kilgore, Kyoko Katsura, and Matthew Fish. Since the only dialogue is incorporated in taped segments, the fact that the cast members were able to work together so smoothly without verbal communication truly made this an ensemble piece.

Buss, meanwhile, had a field day with her staging. From extensions and swirls to slow, languid dips, the choreography was alternately sensual, stirring, and silly. Her fable of found and lost love is sure to transfer to other venues after this auspicious debut.

Technical support came from David A. Gilman, whose sound design was flawless; Daniel Ordower, who provided the mood-changing lighting; and "Sin" Guanci, who costumed the players in colorful, comfortable clothing.

Additional credits for the original works included in the show are as follows: "Gold Star," "Download," and "Crossword" written by Buss, performed by Cindy Marchionda; "Eukrazy" written by Mike Stock, sound design by Jim Van Bergen, also performed by Marchionda; and "Tommy," written by Scott Smith, with production credit going to Jason Paige.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Staging: 2
Performing: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2002 Elias Stimac