Dance News

DS managing editor Rachel Zar and I love musicals—a lot. (Rachel even participated in a family musical every year growing up!) So whenever we have the opportunity to see a Broadway show, we make a mad dash for the Great White Way and eagerly scramble to our seats. From old favorites to the danciest new musicals, here's what we thought of the shows we've seen this summer.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

This show surprised us with its fun plot, kooky characters and complex (often hilarious) dance numbers. Plus, nothing beats seeing Matthew Broderick at home on the Broadway stage. It was hard not to sing along to the recognizable Gershwin tunes (“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “ ‘S Wonderful” and “Fascinating Rhythm” were a few of our faves).

Memphis

There’s a reason that Memphis has won four Tony’s including Best Musical. We think that reason is the dancing. Packed with a ridiculously talented cast, this tale of a radio DJ who’s fighting against segregation in the 50s will keep you grooving in your seat the whole time.

Ghost

While the musical is very dance heavy, we weren't in love with it. It could just be the extremely distracting digital set. That said, leading man Richard Fleeshman is a major hunk and totally kept us entertained. Plus, there are some fabulous dancers—like Afra Hines!—that we know you'll love.

Newsies

We're sure you've figured it out by now, but we're obsessed with this show! It is, after all, the danciest musical currently on Broadway. Christopher Gattelli's Best Choreography Tony Award was more than deserved and the dancers do not disappoint. We grinned like fools throughout the entire show. If you can only see one musical this summer, make it Newsies.

Shows we're dying to see:

Bring It On: The Musical, directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler!

Once, the 2012 Tony Award winner for Best Musical.

Sam Wheat (Richard Fleeshman) and the cast of the West End production of Ghost:The Musical (Sean Ebsworth Barnes, courtesy the Harman Group)

There’s no question that Patrick Swayze plus Demi Moore plus a pottery wheel equals one of the most romantic scenes in movie history—but what if they broke into a love ballad as they sculpted that clay? Swoon! That and so much more will be going on in Ghost: The Musical, opening on Broadway this month (though without the movie’s actors). The classic story follows Molly Jensen, whose husband, Sam Wheat, is murdered and then trapped between the world of the living and the dead. Only phony psychic Oda Mae Brown can help the couple reconnect and prove that true love never dies.

The show debuted on London’s West End last July. And now, with many new cast members and amped-up musical numbers, Ghost is coming to the Great White Way. Dance Spirit talked to Australian choreographer Ashley Wallen—who’s worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue and The Black Eyed Peas—about his Broadway debut, and how he added a music video vibe to one of the most iconic love stories out there.

Dance Spirit: How is choreographing a Broadway show different from projects you’ve worked on in the past?

Ashley Wallen: I usually work on music videos, commercials and film, where I’ll have one week of rehearsals before shooting. It’s been so great to be able to rehearse for five weeks, then tech for four, then be in previews for four before we even open. It gives me the chance to get to know the cast and everyone who’s working on the show. Plus, I just love musicals.

DS: Was it hard to add dance to this love story’s plot?

AW: Yes, because Ghost is such a well-known film that doesn’t have dancing in it. But the writers have come up with really contemporary pop music that still tells the story. The main characters will have intimate moments that open up into these great big dance numbers.

DS: What styles of dance did you use?

AW: There are loads of different styles. It’s mostly contemporary, but with a theatrical feel. Then there are the scenes on the streets of NYC, which have a slick, jazz-based style.

DS: Do you have a favorite number?

AW: “I’m Outta Here,” which is Oda Mae’s fantasy about having $10 million. We just went to town on it. It’s the only number in the show with the whole cast onstage. The 17 new dancers are so great that I’ve been able to update the steps from what the previous cast did in London. It’s like a really fun music video.

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