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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Five friends dance through life in 'Movin' Out'

By Tatiana Craine

After seeing “Movin’ Out,” I wish I had stuck with dancing.”Movin’ Out” is the result of Twyla Tharp’s vision and Billy Joel’s inspiration. The jukebox musical premiered on March 6 at the Orpheum Theatre to an enthusiastic crowd. “Movin’ Out” has been immensely popular with thousands across the nation, and Minneapolis was no exception. The Minneapolis audience watched with baited breath as the first dancers graced their way across the stage and started dancing to “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.” Immediately, people were bobbing their heads and tapping their feet.
Billy Joel is one of America’s most beloved musicians; there’s a reason why he’s called the Piano Man. His music and the characters within his songs speak to hard-working Americans. Joel’s songs also speak to the more sophisticated of the population, including famed choreographer, Twyla Tharp. She found inspiration in Joel’s lyrics and music enough to direct an entire show using just his work.

“Movin’ Out” is unique among Broadway musicals because there are no words, just songs. Even better-there’s a band suspended above the stage, including a Piano Man, that plays and sings each of Joel’s hits. The band at the Orpheum performed superbly, and audience members that bought tickets to get a pseudo-Billy Joel concert were not disappointed. The obvious star of the band, the Piano Man belted out every tune with the voice of a Broadway powerhouse. The first saxophonist also had a standout performance, and received extensive applause at the show’s close.

The fact that “Movin’ Out” boasts merely a band and a string of Billy Joel’s hits as the basis for an entire musical also speaks to Twyla Tharp’s visionary talent. As director and choreographer of the musical, she created a group of friends with emotions, hopes and dreams through dance moves alone. Famed for her choreography skills, Tharp did not disappoint with “Movin’ Out.” She created a rock-ballet with her own unique style of dance, a true dance masterpiece.

“Movin’ Out” follows the lives of five friends (Eddie, Tony, Brenda, Judy and James) through two decades of rock and roll and turmoil that puts their friendships to the ultimate test as they deal with school, war, death, drugs and redemption. Eddie appears as the leader of the group, the badass without a cause. Tony and James are his best friends, characters with comic vibrancy. After Eddie and his girlfriend, Brenda, break up, Tony reluctantly (but successfully) makes a move on her. Judy and James are young lovers, ready to get married. Everything in the friends’ lives comes to a screeching halt as the boys get drafted into the Vietnam War. Suddenly everything between them changes for better and worse, and they all have to cope with their actions.

The standout numbers in the “Movin’ Out” showcased a plethora of different kinds of dancing abilities. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” let the dancers show off their wild and athletic dancing skills. Conversely, “The Stranger” gave classical ballet a leg into the show, an achingly passionate and emotional interlude in the middle of the show. Both “Uptown Girl” and “Big Shot/Big Man on Mulberry Street” showcased a sultry and delightfully raunchy jazz-ballet combination of dance moves.

The show ended to raucous applause and a well deserved, overwhelming standing ovation. “Movin’ Out” gives a new kind of life to Joel’s songs, and an outlet for Tharp’s creative genius. Without a doubt, “Movin’ Out” is definitely worth taking a look.

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