NIU dancers step up for ‘Best of Broadway’

Blur-motion photo of Times Square in New York CitySome of Broadway’s most recognizable dance numbers take center stage at NIU at a review opening Thursday, Nov. 17, in the School of Theatre and Dance’s O’Connell Theatre.

The first of two dance performances scheduled for the 2011-2012 Mainstage production season, “Best of Broadway Dance” features a great variety of techniques and recognizable forms, from the sexy and slick tap moves of choreographer Bob Fosse to the Can-can and Cakewalk dances that were popular 100 to 150 years ago.

Judy Chitwood, the show’s co-director and NIU faculty member, said the variety of dances are high-energy musical pieces. For instance, the Can-can and Cakewalk numbers are based on the original dances popular with the working class and their ballroom dances from the 1830s.

“The dances are very audience appealing and are 5 to 10 minutes each, with very well-known and memorable music. The whole show is being emceed by students from the acting side of the School,” Chitwood said, “and they will be presenting history, trivia and gossip about each of the pieces.”

Although the production features well known dance pieces such as “Cell Block Tango,” from the Broadway and movie hit, “Chicago,” “Steam Heat” from the “The Pajama Game,” and excerpts from “Sweet Charity,” “Best of Broadway” also includes dance medleys and excerpts from “West Side Story,” “Grease,” “Anything Goes” and “Ain’t Misbehavin.’ ”

All nine dance pieces have been restaged and choreographed by NIU School of Theatre and Dance faculty Autumn Eckman, Paula Frasz, Brian Chung and Chitwood.

As the theme of the production is Broadway, each number is designed to look like the original Broadway productions, Chitwood said. Costumes and set pieces will have all the glitz and glamour one would expect to see in a Broadway production.

Performances run Thursday, Nov. 17, through Saturday, Nov. 20. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Ticket prices are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students. Group rates are available.

For more information, contact the SoTD box office at (815) 753-1600.

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