Reviewed by Regina Su
A stellar cast promises a stellar performance, and ‘Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks’ was no exception. Directed by award winner Sandra Bates, and written by the internationally acclaimed, Richard Alfieri, the Ensemble’s latest production has taken off, and can be found touring the Concourse at Chatswood until the 13th of March.
This is such a clever play. Lily Harrison, performed by the esteemed Nancye Hayes, advertises for a dance teacher, performed by the very talented Todd McKenney, who comes to teacher her six dance lessons in six weeks. Through the course of the play, we discover that there’s more them that meets the eye, and they comfort each other through past pains, and learn to accept help.
Although the Florida penthouse suite remains the same set throughout the production, and despite the fact that other characters make an appearance through the plotline, the show rests on the shoulders of theatre legends Hayes and McKenney. Their characters are bestowed with quick-witted dialogue and quips that drip with acidity and spite and yet- their characters are so rich. Ultimately, they have a genuine warmth that makes them endearing. Both characters are wounded souls, whose only balsam for loneliness becomes each other.
Hayes and McKenney take us on an emotional rollercoaster. The Concourse was full on opening night and the audience because roared with laughter. They are able to portray such a warmth and authenticity, and in doing so, their characters came to life with very real struggles and human concerns.
As can be expected, one of the highlights of the show was to see McKenney and Hayes dance. Todd McKenney is so light on his feet, so effortlessly flawless. Together with Hayes, they swept across the stage in a whirlwind of contemporary rock ‘n’ roll, swing, the Cha Cha, the Viennese Waltz, and the Foxtrot and more. Although Hayes is herself a well-seasoned dancer, she transitioned very plausibly from beginner to expert- and they never missed a beat.
With slick choreography and beautifully soft lighting, reminiscent of the American East Coast, this production is an all-round treat. And having casted professional dancers, it was lovely to see their performances placed emphasis on the characters and human story. Very enjoyable, and I recommend to all.