HOUSTON -- Dennis Nahat's Broadway choreographic credits may include Good Time, Charlie, Jumpers, and Two Gentlemen of Verona. He may have performed in the original casts of the classic Sweet Charity and the all-but-forgotten How Now Dow Jones.
But nothing the artistic director of the ballet shared by Cleveland and San Jose has done matches the success of Blue Suede Shoes, a nonstop 90-minute dance theater piece set to more than 30 Elvis Presley tunes which he created and directed in 1997 and which has played to capacity crowds across the nation. Courtesy of the Society for the Performing Arts, Blue Suede Shoes swivels into Houston's Jones Hall April 29 - May 3.
"Are You Lonesome Tonight," "Love Me Tender," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Jailhouse Rock," "Hound Dog": these are only some of Presley's original master recordings to which a cast of 52 dancers will move their hips as they tell the nostalgic story of growing up in the 1950s. Wearing 200 Bob Mackie costumes, and shaking what they've got across a dozen splashy sets, also designed by Mackie, the retro casts revisits sock hops and drive-ins as an innocent era gives way to rock 'n' roll and the Cold War.
Nahat is also a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet. While he has created some 80 ballets for the Cleveland San Jose Ballet, critics as well as the general public have deemed Blue Suede Shoes his best foot forward.
Blue Suede Shoes plays Jones Hall, courtesy of the Society for the Performing Arts, April 29-May 3. For tickets, $15-$50, call (713) 227-ARTS if in Houston or (800) 828-ARTS if out of town. -- By Peter Szatmary