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James Scarborough

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Come Fly Away, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, California

Posted: 02/ 1/2012 10:00 pm

Showing what happens (lucky you) when you get caught between the moon and New York City, Twyla Tharp's Come Fly Away, her terpsichorean celebration of the music of Frank Sinatra (27 songs, with the classic arrangements), swept, timelessly hip, into Segerstrom Hall. From the first number, "Stardust," to the last, "New York, New York," the production rekindled the memories (and the energy behind those memories) of romance: from a first sighting, a first kiss a first dance and then onward down the bumpy road to love. Be you 17, 21, 35, or in the autumn or your life, this magical production will remind you that, through the prism of love, they were all very good years.

Ms. Tharp crafted Come Fly Away around the volatility that is romance. Set in a kaleidoscopic, anything-can-happen nightclub, the story recounts the rhapsodic travails of four couples that fall in and out and in and out of love. It features 14 dancers with a live on-stage band that seamlessly accompanies Sinatra's vocals. Emotion-wise it runs the gamut from giddy to glamorous, and includes memorable moments of scintillating flirtation, smoldering passion, equally smoldering jealousy, and some very cute purposeful clumsiness.

The pairing of Tharp's choreography and Sinatra's singing was inspired; moreso when you factor in the nothing-short-of-fantastic performances of Ramona Kelley, Christopher Vo, Stephen Hanna, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Marielys Molina, Anthony Burrell, Matthew Stockwell Dibble, and Meredith Miles. Each approach, encounter, rejection, re-encounter, and take-off felt spontaneous and genuine. It may as well have set on a playground. Come to think of it, it was. Even without the music we can recognize ourselves in the movements. If that isn't choreography, I don't know what is.

The song selection vivisected the vicissitudes of love. The ups ("Fly Me to the Moon," "Witchcraft," and "Makin' Whoopee"), the downs ("Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week," "That's Life," and "Learning the Blues"), starting over ("Pick Yourself Up," and "Let's Face the Music and Dance"), soaring ("The Way You Look Tonight/My Funny Valentine" and "My Way"), and everything in-between.

Performances are Tuesday -- Friday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. The show closes on February 5. Tickets are $20 - $75. Segerstrom Hall is located at 600 Town Hall Center Drive, Costa Mesa. For more information call (714) 556-2787 or visit www.scfta.org.


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