'Traces", part of the 2013 Best of Broadway Tampa Bay series, now at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts through February 3, is in one word...UNFORGETTABLE! But,... what is it?
Is it a Musical? A Comedy? A "Cirque" Show? A Dance? An Acrobatics Display?
After 40 years in show business, thinking that I have seen and/or experienced everything on stage, I found myself captivated, yet repeatedly muttering, "What is this? What am I watching?"
Well, 'Traces" is all of these genres and more, rolled into one, "out of the box", unforgettable, "event". There is something for everyone, in this high energy, avant-garde, urban, "street musical" celebration, of human physical skills and talents. The vignettes include acrobatics, skateboarding, gymnastics, dance, ariel straps, piano playing, basketballs, rollerblading, guitar playing, hoops, "chair throwing" choreography, and more!
Direct from New York, the multi talented, Montreal based troupe with a 7 member cast, (6 men and one woman), features Creative Direction by 7 Fingers, (Les 7 Digits de la Main); and Direction & Choreography by Shana Carroll & Gypsy Snider.
From the moment the lights go down and the creepy, ghoulish, comedic, narrative begins, you know that you are in for a very unique experience. There is an imaginative, minimalistic set design and properties by Flavia Heviaa. A gray and beige tonal patchwork of ragged, muslin draperies, hang on either side of the stage. A distressed grand piano, desk, and upstage chairs, dressed the relatively bare playing area. The lighting design by the gifted, Nol van Genuchten, is wondrous and adds so much to the entire experience. His clever use of GoBo Lights, (a lighting template used to create dramatic patterns and effects), combined with projections and frontal stage lighting ,added depth and dimension, continuously transporting the audience to another time and place. In continuum, with the minimalistic concept; white, long and short sleeved shirts, with various shades of black trousers were worn for the majority of scenes, as costumes, designed by Manon Desmarais. This thread of minimalism allowed the audience to focus on the talent, without any distraction.
There were many highlights, too numerous to mention, with this exhilarating, multi talented cast. Not only in the solos, tailored specifically for individual talents, but in the precision ensemble choreography as well. Some favorites include, Mason Ames and Valérie Benoît-Charbonneau, who displayed great hand to hand, strength and balance, in a stunning pas de deux, love story sequence. Their sensual chemistry was honest and believable and their physicality...passionate.
Later on in the production, Ms. Benoit-Chabonneau, costumed in a short, red, handkerchief dress, gave a show stopping solo performance, on ariel straps of "the circle of life". Lucas Boutin and Bradley Henderson's Chinese pole acrobatics was literally,"gripping!" Matieu Cloutier was outstanding as he sang, played guitar, as well as performing acrobatics and rollerblading. LJ Marles provoked laughter with his comedic hip-hop dancing. The audience marveled when Mr. Marles soared above the stage in the ariel straps. He stopped the show in a solo display of strength, balance and grace. Philippe Normand-Jenny added an entirely new dimension to the production by jumping and twirling and flying through the air on a teeterboard (seesaw) to the absolute delight of the audience. And there is so much more...
Traces" is non stop, extraordinary entertainment, performed in 90 minutes, without an intermission and is perfect for all ages.
GO SEE IT!
"Traces" will play the Straz Center, Jan. 29-Feb. 3, 2013. Tickets start at $31.50 and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, or in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online.