TR Robertson –Beginning their 15th Season in Downtown Historic Vista and their 193rd production, owners Douglas Davis and Randall Hickman, of The Broadway Theater – San Diego County’s BIGGEST little theater, appropriately present a play dealing with love and its complications with two people that seem to be in no way compatible. Randall and Doug certainly love what they do and love presenting live theatre that covers a range of emotions, topics and styles.
“Dancing Lessons” certainly falls into the category of the diverse theatre productions they enjoy bringing to their Vista stage. Mark St. Germaine’s play takes the audience through an education into the behavior and mind of an extremely intelligent man, Ever Montgomery, who is autistic and also has Asperger’s syndrome. The journey we will watch, in this 80 minute play, will allow us to watch Ever negotiate the encounter he will have with an neighbor in his apartment complex, as he approaches her to teach him how to dance.
Photos courtesy Broadway Vista
What the audience will see on stage is a stellar performance by two veterans of theatre, Gabriela Nelson and Mike Martin. Gabriela, as Senga Quin, presents a moving performance of an older Broadway dancer who has suffered a serious injury to her leg after being hit by a New York City taxi and sees her career in serious jeopardy of ending. Senga has turned to a life of solitude, rejecting any contact from people in the apartment complex and from family members. She is bitter and certainly does not want to help Ever when he arrives at her door with the unusual request to pay her to teach him how to dance. The encounter ranges from funny to sad to unusual. Gabriela negotiates the fast paced dialogue with ease and wonderful emotion. Nelson’s most recent role was as Guadalupe in Teatro Pueblo Nuevo’s production of “Guadalupe in The Guest Room” at New Village Arts in Carlsbad. She is an award winning actress, singer, percussionist and ballroom dancer.
Her co-star is Mike Martin, playing the eccentric and most interesting Ever Montgomery. Ever is a Professor of Geosciences at the New York Institute of Technology and is set to receive an award, but he feels he needs to know how to dance and act at the social setting he is to attend. He has set out to pay a neighbor from his apartment complex to teach him how to dance. I asked Mike how difficult this role was and he said he spent a lot of time researching and studying Autism and Asperger’s to prepare for the role and to understand just what St. Germaine wanted from this character. I feel he presents the role of Ever with dignity, understanding and great emotion as you watch Ever stumble at times, get very frustrated at times and deal with situations he finds very difficult.
One funny moment occurs when you hear Ever try and negotiate what to pay Senga for her dance lessons and we hear he has come up with the amount of $2,153; $1,653 for the minimum a Broadway dancer would get for a week’s work and $500 for a dance captain and he happens to have that amount in an envelope in this jacket pocket. Ever’s also does an occasional aside, as the professor, to the audience and at one point gives us a scary scenario of what will happen by 2065 with the rising ocean levels, but also informs us that most listening to him will be dead by that time anyway. It’s not that he is insensitive, he just doesn’t realize when he is being insensitive and speaking in social situations is very foreign to him. You will find yourself on the edge of your seat as Ever tries to shake Senga’s hand or air kiss her cheek. Mike’s performance for each social situation and each encounter with Senga is mesmerizing. He is awkward, but the more we learn about him, the more we like him and his problem solving is clever. Martin is performing at Broadway Vista for the very first time and was names Orange County’s Best Actor of the Year by OC Weekly.
The ending to this short play is tender, touching and will have you rooting for both Senga and Ever and hoping their relationship will work out and that Ever will learn how to dance. The play is directed by Randall Hickman with Randall and Doug putting together the set, costumes and generally everything else necessary to put on a production.
“Dancing Lessons” will play at Broadway Vista, 340 East Broadway, until November 16th. Tickets can be purchased at 760-806-7905 or go to www.broadwayvista.com. Tickets are $25.00. Next up for Broadway Vista, just in time for the holidays, is “Santa’s North Pole Follies” beginning on November 30th. A portion of the cost for each ticket will be donated to help feed, house and care for our furry friends.
The Broadway Kids will be performing in a musical, “Elf Jr. The Musical” at the Hearth Stage in San Marcos on December 6, 7, 8 and 9. Over 90 kids and teens will be in the production