Contact

Some may consider the Tony Award-winning Contact innovative in its fusion of dance theater and musical theater. But mostly it's just another Broadway-approved show that uses its status to charge stadium-rock-concert ticket prices (a whopping $80 for the orchestra) and peddle $25 embroidered T-shirts in an attempt to convince us locals that we're seeing really great theater. While the dance numbers are good fun, they don't add up to much. A naughty Fragonard-inspired swing scene (appropriately titled “Swinging”) ends in a ménage à trois with a twist. A 1950s housewife (Meg Howrey) escapes her oppressive husband (Adam Dannheisser) by leaping into her imagination — and into the arms of a restaurant's headwaiter (Gary Franco). And then there's the mysterious Girl in the Yellow Dress (Holly Cruikshank), who goes to the pool hall where “they push the tables back at night” to dance to Robert Palmer and the Squirrel Nut Zippers (but no live orchestra in this show). Cruikshank is a marvelous technician with gorgeous lines, but to me overplayed her aloofness and lacked passion; my attention quickly turned to the more fiery clubgoers. Unlike those in many musicals, the characters here don't break out in song frequently, and the show has proportionately less dialogue. Instead, the dances tell the stories, some of them rather dark, as when the housewife imagines murdering her husband in “Did You Move?” or when ad exec Michael Wiley (Alan Campbell) hangs himself in the title piece. But these potentially interesting turns are undercut quickly, either by an uninspired piece of shtick or (as in “Contact”) by a typically happy ending. This is, after all, a Broadway musical: You can't shock audiences too much. Except for one or two dance pieces, Contact isn't any more groundbreaking than San Francisco's own dance theater companies — in fact, it's less so. If you like the “eventness” of Best of Broadway, you'll probably like this. Otherwise, save yourself some money and see some truly innovative dance theater at ODC or Yerba Buena Center for the Arts instead.

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