Get Thee to the Kitchen!
Ithaca has its own little Off Broadway theatre, the intimate space at the Kitchen Theatre, has just entered its 25th season. This is indeed a landmark anniversary for any theater. Let alone a small, cutting edge, non-profit such as the Kitchen. The quality matches anything, anywhere: one certainly imagines they are in the theater district of New York when sitting in the ‘Kitchen.’
The Kitchen creative staff never fails to “deliver”, but I must state that the current offering may well be my favorite to date piece of theater. (Note: It easy to feel that way with the track record here.) Viewers have the opportunity to catch this work through April 3rd, so get your tickets now for Dancing Lessons by Mark St. Germain.
Its premise is not new: two unlikely characters, living in the same building, are brought together circumstantially and lives are changed forever. A story we’ve heard before, but it is in the telling that we are transported. In this case the characters presented offer us new dimensions; an injured dancer and an autistic professor whose inevitable transformations through their collision will deliver the unexpected. We are not disappointed, and yet still taken by surprise. Better yet, we the audience take in a whole lot of new information and perspective in the telling: more about autism, control issues, fear and compromise. I came away deeply moved.
A brilliant cast, direction, and set design meld perfectly to accomplish the effect. Zack Calhoun regales playing Ever – giving us a sincere man who knows his limitations and pushes against his boundaries, straining to surpass his comfort zone, expressed in a frank, appropriate way to reveal a nature few have glimpsed. Equally powerful Rachel Burttram as Senda produces a woman, though not autistic, surprises as the more rigid of the two. The struggle to overcome her limitations in many ways feels harder than those of Ever. Her boundaries, while less physical, have been more deeply embraced and clung to.
Director Sarah Lampert Hoover returns to the Kitchen Theater to ably guide the two person powerhouse cast. And a magical set by David L. Arsenault enhanced with lighting by Kitchen regular Tyler M. Perry places us in a very real New York apartment with clear landing at the front door where much of the relationship is explored, not to mention special lighting effects that provide lecture hall and doctors’ office on the peripherals. I urge anyone to catch Dancing Lessons.
Remaining performances are:
Wednesday, March 30th at 7:30 – with pre-show talk at 6:30pm (come back and join us for this – free to all)
Thursday, March 31 at 2pm -matinee
Thursday, March 31 at 7:30pm
Friday, April 1 at 8pm – with post show talk with the actors (come back and join us for this at 9:30pm)
Saturday, April 2 at 8pm
Sunday, April 3 at 4pm
The Kitchen Theater is located at 417 W. Martin Luther King Jr/State Street Ithaca, NY 14850. www.kitchentheatre.org. 607-272-0403