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Theatre Wed Mar 31 2010

The Factory Theater's Hey! Dancin'!

heydancin.jpg

The cast of the TV show, photo courtesy of The Factory Theater

Hey! Dancin'! is a simple play. It is not meant to change your life but to make you smile. It is very much about the 80s, and whether you look back on the decade with nostalgia or disdain, you will have trouble keeping a straight face at this performance.

Hey! Dancin'! takes place in 1986 at the studio where a public access television dance show of the same name, reminiscent of "American Bandstand," is recorded. Our protagonist is a teenie bopper named Halle (played by Melissa Nedell) who, if not for her slut-wannabe best friend Trisha (played by Catherine Dughi), is probably the show's #1 fan.

Since Halle and Trisha are about to graduate high school, they decide they need to get on the show, just once, before the season is over and it's too late. They idolize the regular dancers on the show, each wanting to appear on the show so they can meet their respective heartthrobs.

After bribing their way into a taping, Halle and Trisha meet their idols--only, of course, to be disappointed. This story hints on issues of celebrity and morality in an 80s sitcom kind of way, but don't try to think about that too much or you might hurt yourself.

Above all, Hey! Dancin'! is a visual feast. The costumes and dance moves are impeccable, each of the characters embodying a specific trend from the time. The douchebag host of the show (skeezily perfected by Anthony Tournis) looks straight out of "Miami Vice," the heartthrob straight out of Back to the Future, and Princess--one of the dancers--looks like Prince himself dressed her. Also, it must be mentioned, Esteban Andres Cruz is hilarious as a flaming veteran dancer, complete with ribbons streaming from his hair, who is repulsed by the hordes of teenage girls throwing themselves at him.

Because they say every good story needs a conflict, "Hey! Dancin'!" (the TV show) is experiencing an identity crisis. The kids like the dance music, but their parents have been calling in and complaining to the producer (frumpy recovering alcoholic Dennis Blackburn, played by Noah Simon) that the music is too "black." In an effort to keep the parents happy, he switches the music to Bon Jovi much to the dismay of the dancers, who proclaim "it's like Classic Rock but even worse!"

The story probably could have benefited from a more flushed-out plot, but it is what it is, and it's simple, and sometimes simple is best. Go to Hey! Dancin'! for the kernels of hilarity. Plus if you're like me, you'll walk out after having seen a little bit of your former self in Halle and Trisha, and you'll feel like you've finally grown up. And that's a good thing.

Hey! Dancin'! is playing at Prop Theater every weekend through April 24. For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit The Factory Theater's website.

 
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By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
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Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

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