Stroman and Weidman's Contact Opens on Broadway, March 30

News   Stroman and Weidman's Contact Opens on Broadway, March 30 Susan Stroman and John Weidman's propulsive new "dance play" Contact will graduate to Broadway status on March 30, when it officially opens at the spacious Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Previews began March 2. The show sold out its run at the smaller, Off-Broadway the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, where it closed temporarily Jan. 2. It will officially open on March 30.

Talk of a move to a Broadway house began shortly after Contact's opening night, with the Beaumont seeming the likeliest prospect, given its close proximity and it structural resemblance to the Newhouse.

Stroman told Playbill (March 24) that Contact may soon embark on a tour. "There are plans for a tour of Contact, probably next fall," she said. "I think it might be a combination of this company and new folks."

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Contact is divided into three parts. In the first story, "Swinging," three 18th-century French figures carry out a romantic intrigue to jazz violinist Stephane Grappeli's rendition of "My Heart Stood Still." Much of the section's acrobatic and erotic action is played out upon a large swing suspended from the rafters. Sean Martin Hingston, Stephanie Michaels and Scott Taylor play the trio.

Story two, "Did You Move?," stars Karen Ziemba as an unhappy Queens woman trapped in a suffocating marriage to a laconic brute. With few options open to her, she finds release in romantic fantasies backed by the music of Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Bizet and Puccini. These flights of fancy are enacting in a neighborhood Italian restaurant, with patrons, waiters and busboys all taking part. Stroman continues her trademark use of organic props by drawing trays, buspans, dessert carts and rolls into the choreography. The final piece, "Contact," takes place in contemporary New York and, appropriately, features the music of the Squirrel Nut Zippers ("Put a Lid on It"), The Beach Boys ("Do You Want to Dance?"), Benny Goodman ("Sing, Sing, Sing"), Robert Palmer ("Simply Irresistible") and Dion ("Runaround Sue"). The story follows a suicidal advertising executive who, stumbling into an after-hours swing-dancing club, encounters a mysterious, beautiful woman in a yellow dress. Finding in the woman a reason to keep on living, he struggles to meet her, but is constantly thwarted by rivals more skilled on the dance floor.

"Contact" is based on a true experience Stroman had one night, when she visited a dance club in the Meat Market district. There she witnessed a fascinating woman in a yellow dress who took turns dancing with different partners throughout the night. Watching from the sidelines, Stroman thought, "she's going to change someone's life tonight."

"Contact" -- which lasts about an hour and dominates the evening -- features Deborah Yates, a relative unknown, as the yellow-clad one. Boyd Gaines, a two time Tony-winner (who basically had to learn how to dance from the ground up for this production) plays the ad exec.

Contact is directed and choreographed by Stroman, who is currently working on a new Broadway revival of The Music Man, and features a cast of 22. Stroman burst onto the scene several years ago when she choreographed the Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes Round . She went on to choreograph Crazy for You (Tony Award) and Show Boat. Last year, she choreographed a landmark production of Oklahoma! in London.

Weidman's works include Big, Assassins and Pacific Overtures.

Much speculation centers on how Contact will be treated by the Tony committee. No doubt, the producers will lobby for it to be considered as a musical, though the fact that the show has no original score will probably become a point of contention.

For information on Contact at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre call (212) 239-6200.