On April 29, 2022, just as dusk led to a flaming sunset and an evening of romance, intrigue and festivities at Beverly Hills’ Greystone Mansion, the adroit director/choreographer Janet Roston and a coterie of performers made Gatsby Redux a memorable and tantalizing evening. They imbued the space with the sense of the 1920’s heyday, replete with an invitation from Jay Gatsby. The willing guests were welcomed with champagne and Evelyn Master of Ceremonies, played by Sarah Mullis, was flagged to take care of the invited guests’ wanderings up and down stone arched stairways, garden paths, and manicured lawns punctuated with fountains and pools.
The lead ingenue was the stunning Daisy Buchanan in her cream colored chiffon and lace shift with headband and was played by Tiffany Wolff, a Lady Mary Crawley (Downton Abbey) look-alike. An enchanting and talented actress/dancer, she charmed the audience with her initial introduction in anticipation of her meeting the tall, elegant and smitten Jay Gatsby played by Camal Pugh who was impressive in his white linen suit.
The Costume designer, Allison Dillard, created lovely and timely frocks that enhanced the story and the company with a palate of whites and creams painted with light and color. The excellent use of music, well edited and designed by Mark Governor and Brian Lucas and projections by Joe Larue enhanced the experience, which connected the audience to the performers and the space. This is not simple on the uneven terrain and the out-of-doors grounds of the large mansion. However, the dancers were strong and able, seeming to make it look easy.
The smell of night blooming jasmine, wafted through the evening with the mixed cast of performing couples “close dancing.” Hana Bible and Trenton Williams, Nicholas Sipes, Sarah Wines, Michael Quiett, Jacqueline Hinton, Tiffany Wolff, and Camal Pugh were lost in the euphoria of the evening and each other. The audience being so close, created the feeling one would plunge into the scene if one took a breath. While it was a safer position to just be a voyeur, this nearness created tension and curiosity. A performance by Joi McCoy with lace chemise added to the privacy of the “hot hotel room in New York City.”
A Garden Party with an Isadora character, performed by the lithe Jacqueline Hinton and supported by her entourage, Hana Bible, Cristyn Dang, Nicholas Sipes, Trenton Williams, Michael Quiett, and Sarah Wines created a lyrical moment in the garden in front of the fountain. It soon transitioned into an Easter egg hunt and croquet-on-the- lawn bringing the group together in a little afternoon play, entertainment and flirting. All performed on the well-manicured lawn.
Into the evening there was a memorable and dangerous Apache dance with Tom (Nicholas Spies) and Myrtle (Sarah Wines) which was appropriately aggressive, with pushing, shoving, and hair dragging, but Myrtle was soon soothed in a pas de deux with McCoy as Tom exits. Finally, there was a lovely Pas de deux with Daisy and Gatsby in the garden. As voyeurs, the audience watched on from a distance as the couple swayed, turned and lifted using the entire environment, the steps, stone floor and space judiciously.
The finale was the company doing their dance bows under large patterns on the walls of the mansion to end a total immersive experience. All the audience and performers seemed to have had a wonderful time and hopefully left with lovely memories of the day. This complete involvement was beautiful and effortlessly coordinated and directed by Ms. Roston. It was a sublime evening. Just one suggestion: It is important to make sure to bring comfortable shoes and a jacket…you will be celebrating the freedom of out of doors with its weather, walking, and theatrical treats. Terrific job to Janet Roston and the Company of Mixed eMotion Theatrix. Very well done.
To learn more about Mixed eMotion Theatrix, please visit their WEBSITE.
Written by Joanne DiVito for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Mixed eMotion Theatrix – Gatsby Redux at Greystone Mansion – (L-R) Michael Quiett, Trenton Williams, Nicholas Sipes – Photo by Barry Weiss
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