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Robinson, who previously has sung the role of Joe in Chicago, Houston and Washington, D.C., predicts that San Francisco audiences “are just going to be on sensory overload. I mean, literally, the show is a visual spectacle. And the show is a musical buffet of just hit tune after hit tune. There must be seven tunes from this show that I didn’t even know I knew: ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,’ ‘Bill,’ ‘Why Do I Love You?’ And the list goes on. These are tunes that you know just by listening to the radio while driving on the highway with your dad.”.
Calling himself “a German and Italian repertory guy” (he also sings in the summer season’s “Madama Butterfly”), Robinson has become a “Show Boat” fan, though he initially had misgivings: essie ballet slippers gel couture “You think about the stereotypical perception of what a black guy represented back then, singing spirituals or work songs, and it wasn’t something I really wanted to portray.”, The black characters in “Show Boat” work in menial jobs: Joe on the docks, his wife Queenie (soprano Angela Renée Simpson) as cook on the Cotton Blossom, But inasmuch as the story opens about 20 years after the end of slavery, this would be a realistic depiction of African-Americans’ societal status at the time, Robinson points out, When the show ends, during the 1920s, blacks appear on stage in their Sunday best; director Zambello portrays the emergence of a black middle class..
It can be argued that with its unvarnished depictions of segregation, its use of black vernacular — and its use of the N-word, toned down here, as in most productions — “Show Boat” is an American mirror of the Italian operatic style known as “verismo,” which translates as “realism” or “true.”. Robinson says, “I enjoy putting that in front, so people can never forget the ridiculous indignities” of the era and of the decades since. He also notes that Joe and Queenie are astute and “cerebral” observers who “have the respect of everyone on this boat. There’s intimacy in this production. We touch. We hug each other. These are things you can’t do on the streets in the 1880s. This was forward thinking” by Kern and Hammerstein. “This show went against everything that was normal.”.
Bill Irwin calls “Show Boat” essie ballet slippers gel couture an “investigation of a lot of things in American history and American culture.” He describes it as “kind of Huck Finn-ish,” with an “innocence” in its racial attitudes — an underlying sense that “none of this (racism) makes any sense.” Stober, the soprano, nods in agreement, saying it “has so many layers, and it’s not naive, (Author Edna) Ferber saw this curve of change” in society’s attitudes, “and now we’ve had all these other curves that we’ve lived through since, and that we are still embarking on right now.”..
John DeMain, conductor of the 47-piece orchestra and a historian of American musical theater, could write a book about “Show Boat” — not just its depiction of prejudice and social progress, but the way it marries European leitmotifs and American jazz and points the way to George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and Broadway shows through the late 1960s (when “Hair” debuted); how it depicts the evolution of American dance (cakewalk and buck-and-wing, waltz and fox trot); how it encompasses period acting styles — and the most sublime music.
The show “isn’t shy about anything,” Zambello says, “It spreads over 40 years, and it’s about the kinds of prejudices that still exist today, and it takes place all over America, If you tried to do this musical now, I don’t think they’d let anybody do it, I don’t think any producer would say, ‘Great, let’s do it.’ Look at the sorts of musicals they’re doing now: ‘Book of Mormon.’ I don’t think we’re doing musicals with big deep essie ballet slippers gel couture emotional commentaries running through them, We’re not doing anything like ‘Show Boat.'”..
Featuring three double-bill programs over Friday and Saturday, the festival moves between the ODC campus’ two performance spaces (and a bowling alley across the street), offering a stylistically and geographically diverse array of dance makers paired on thematically resonant programs. The event opens with Los Angeles-based choreographer Lionel Popkin and the Bay Area duo Headmistress presenting works investigating notions of identity and cultural appropriation. Headmistresses Amara Tabor-Smith and Sherwood Chen perform two solo pieces, including an excerpt from the work-in-progress “Mongrels and Objects.” Popkin’s West Coast premiere, “Ruth Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” explores the way that modern dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis drew inspiration from traditional Asian dance and features three dancers from his company and a live score by the powerhouse duo of accordionist Guy Klucevsek and violinist Mary Rowell.
Live music also figures prominently in the second Walking Distance program, featuring restaged works by two beloved Bay Area companies, Garrett + Moulton Productions reprises “A Show of Hands,” which premiered last year at the San essie ballet slippers gel couture Francisco Jewish Community Center to glowing reviews, Set to music by Bay Area composer Dan Becker and performed live by the Friction Quartet, the work for six dancers celebrates the human hand in all its expressive possibilities, In an ideal pairing, Rachna Nivas, a principal member of Chitresh Das Dance Company, performs her own choreography in “Bhakti,” a solo based on the life of the Hindu mystic Meerabai, accompanied by an ensemble of four classical Indian musicians (as well as the ankle bells that are integral to kathak dance)..