New York City Theater
Why is the beat of the tango so mesmerizing? Does it beat in time with the pulse of one's blood? Whatever it is, the music speaks to every one, though its origin and distinctive flavor is Argentinian.
And now the Argentinians have invaded Broadway, bringing back its "Forever Tango," a show which had a hit Broadway run in 1997-98. Whether the original "Tango" experienced changes as it traveled about the world is impossible to say. And indeed the earlier "Tango" had a clear story line, as we recall, tracing the dance's history from the docks and bordellos of Buenos Aires to the playgrounds of the upper classes. Ultimately it went on to become a national obsession. History plays little part in the current show, though the opening number gives lip service to the tango's origins.
But no matter. This "Tango" holds its own very well, with its 26-member company of first-class dancers and musicians. It is more concert than show--a series of performances under producer/director Luis Bravo-but each number is a veritable gem. Couples have the opportunity to display their virtuosity and their own interpretation of the national dance, with its insistent beat, its pauses, its moments of dramatic silence. Though many of the dancers are not in the first flush of youth (a surprise to our youth-oriented culture), their work is impeccable. Even Marcelo Bernadaz and Veronica Gardella, who offer a hilarious interpretation of bumbling dancers, never miss a beat.
The orchestra, too, has its moments in the spotlight, and deservedly so, with solos from pianist Jorge Vernieri and others. Piano, strings, keyboard and Argentina's unique bandoneons comprise the orchestra, and the music, as much as the dance, sets the mood with its plaintive melodies. But Argemira Affonso's dazzling costumes, and Bravo's own lighting design all add to the ambience.
-- Irene Backalenick
July 20, 2004