New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

Connecticut Theater

"Fan Dance"
Downtown Cabaret Theatre, Bridgeport

There is no doubt that Misty Rowe (who conceived, wrote, directed and performed in “Fan Dance”) has put her heart—and life story—into the show. And there is no doubt that it is cathartic to pen one’s memoirs. But such efforts do not guarantee professional shows, and, in fact, “Fan Dance”—now at Downtown Cabaret--falls short of its goals in every sense. Though Downtown Cabaret has provided the venue for this show, it is producer New York Theatrical Productions (and not the Cabaret) which must bear responsibility for this fiasco.

To begin, Rowe has attempted to interweave two tales—her own and that of the one-time famed fan dancer Sally Rand. The result is a confusing script which leaves the viewer vainly attempting to make sense of it all. More often than not, musical revues provide too little story, but this time around the opposite is true. Misty Rowe cannot decide which tale she wants to tell—Sally Rand’s or her own—and it is only at the end of the evening that all disparate threads are pulled together. She has used the tenuous connection between herself and Rand to prove the similarity of their dreams and survival instincts.

Worse yet, each musical number is disappointingly amateurish. And video scenes flashed on screen (meant to carry the story through the tumultuous twentieth century) are equally amateurish. Moreover, Rowe has recruited old-time stand-up comic Steve Rossi to be part of the proceedings. Rossi moves center stage and offers his corny routine, which brings all action to a halt. His appearance has nothing to do with the story or the show. It all indicates that Rowe may indeed be a successful entertainer (according to her program credits), but she falters as a writer, director and choreographer.

Yet, to be fair, there is one moving moment in the second act dealing with Rand’s decision to adopt an infant. This scene is straight dialogue, with no song-and-dance routine involved, which proves to be its saving grace.

All told, the highlight of the evening is the Sally Rand fan dance number. No, not the dance itself, but the two pairs of gorgeous ostrich feathers which encase the dancer. In short, we can, without reservation, give a rave review to the feathers.

--Irene Backalenick
Apr. 4, 2010

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