Quote of the Day: Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic. Oscar Wilde in his dark novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a Faustian tale, where the main character sells her soul to the Devil to find fame and fortune. The price is high, and the results tragic. I have not read the novel, but after watching Collide Theatrical’s performance of this Gothic novel, I’m adding it to my “Want to Read” list, or putting it on my Audible account. It’s beautiful and fascinating, heartbreaking and dark. The story is told through dance. The music selections, performed by a live band on stage, directed by Shannon Van der Reck, and the addition of vocals (Katie Gearty & Katie Bradley) tell the story in a marvelous and unique way. They include a synopsis in the program, but you don’t really need it. The performers do an amazing job of telling the story through their expressive movement with the enhancement of sound, lighting, costumes, and more.
The creators of this dance performance (Choreographer/Director Regina Peluso and Playwright/Assistant Director Michael Hanna) of The Picture of Dorian Gray place the setting in New York City, high fashion society. The stage is a runway. The performers are models. Dorian longs to be discovered and revered. When she discovers that the image in the picture has the power to grant her every desire, she comes under its spell. This performance makes us think about the lengths that women will go to for perfection. All of the characters are female, adding an extra edge, and thought-provoking image. Songs like Madonna’s Vogue, Black Cat, and Fame set the tone. In the second act, the song My Body is a Cage describes well the Hell people go through for that perfection, and Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance brings home the sacrifice of relationships as one rises to power.
All of the dancers were fantastic, such strong moves, expression, and characterization! Brittany Keefe is exquisite as the lead character Dorian Gray, showing both the innocence as she first appears on the fashion scene, and the monster she becomes once under the spell of the picture. Heather Brockman is fierce as Lady H. Her stage presence and strength in the dances were stunning. Chelsea Rose as The Picture is scary good. Her movements, facial expression, and entire body language gave a chilling performance. She is all in as the demon character.
The costumes by Jan Jacobsen and Rebecca Abroe are beautiful from the high fashion runway outfits to the Devil in the red cape for The Picture and Dorian, and the overalls for the photographer. The costumes enhance the effect of the performance and characters. The lighting design by Karin Olsen brought the focus where it needed to be, and the set design by Jason Halupnick was gorgeous placing us center stage in the New York fashion industry. Projection design by Daniel Benoit also help tell the story and provides timelines.
I have enjoyed several shows, now, by Collide Theatrical, Dance ‘Til You Drop, and The Great Gatsby. I plan to be in the audience for future shows! It is a beautiful collaboration of dance, theater, music, and storytelling.
You can see The Picture of Dorian Gray by Collide Theatrical at Park Square Theater in St. Paul, MN through April 7, 2019.
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Told through dance – now that is really unique.