“I can dance…and make romance,” sings Eugene Chan as he rehearses “The Boy from New York City.” I look over and this arty, refined guy is doing some major moves on the Caramoor floor. For one guilty moment I really wish I could still dance. I’d abduct Eugene to a disco (do they still have them?) in a nanosecond.
I had begun the week thinking the group was a bit sedate, and that maybe the swingtime songs wouldn’t…swing. This cast is not sedate: they’re serious, elegant, and somewhat quiet at mealtimes. They don’t tell jokes, do imitations, or recite TV dialogue verbatim. But give them a chance to shake booty and booty is shaken. Hard. We have an encore by Charles Aznavour and I can’t believe where they’re taking it. Eugene belted his solo like a Gallic Louis Armstrong today, sinking to his knees as he put the moves on Meredith. I doubt we’ll keep the bit but none of us is going to forget it. Meredith later grabbed Brent’s butt. That, we’re keeping.
This is a cast of transformers. Kristin gets to play not one by two African-American women, singing “Harlem on My Mind” by Irving Berlin and “Mon histoire” by Milhaud. She seems fearless, and there is definitely a wild woman lurking until that proper Canadian veneer. She’s a passionate girl, an open channel. Blond, all-American Brent has the soul of a poet and a wicked sense of adventure onstage. He also seems to know how to be wry, romantic, and real in French. Was he paying attention in high school?
And it’s so rewarding to spend time with Meredith. I began working with her when she was a sophomore at Juilliard, and by now we’ve been onstage together a fair amount. She sings so freely that she inspires me to be my freest too. Today she asked to end rehearsal with Rodgers’ “A Tree in the Park” and it was definitely in Technicolor.