THE BEAUX ARTS BALL, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South; a joint Dance Theatre Coalition/Girlfriends production; continues through April 22, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday, April 13-15, and Friday and Saturday, April 21 and 22, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 16. All seats reserved. Tickets available through ArtTix, 355-2787. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes (no intermission). For further information, visit DTC's Web site at www.dancetheatrecoalition.org.
Art, angst and several decades worth of women's issues -- all played out against a lovely and lively backdrop. This is "The Beaux Arts Ball," a Dance Theatre Coalition and Girlfriends Production, produced by Vicki Pugmire and directed by Teresa Sanderson, playing at The Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.The set, designed by Greg Caputo, is of an elegant ladies' room. The time is turn-of-the-century Paris. The occasion is a fancy dress ball, an event held so that artists and wealthy patrons might meet, dance, see and be seen, and most importantly, sell and purchase. Into the ladies' room come the wives, girlfriends and models of famous artists. They're here to escape, freshen up, weep and fight with each other.
From the opening scene, you realize this will be a visual feast. Each woman is dressed in the style of her husband's art. (Costume designer: Tamara Cobus.) Enter Madame Seurat, played by Barbara Bellows-Terranova, dressed in the little green outfit -- replete with flecks of gold and black, a la pointillism -- from "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Picasso's lover, played by Melinda Renee, can barely walk because her cubed leggings don't bend.
Norma, the maid, is played by Pamela Balmister; Rachel Luna is Mrs. Wyeth; Kimberly Otto-Biebuyk is Mary Cassatt; Linda Hamilton is Madame Matisse; Dyane Ganna is Constance, a statue who speaks (tres artistic); Susan Valadon is played by Rebecca Hunt; Brandie Balken is Jeanne (you'll love her costume); Lynne Van Dam is Madame Duffy; Laurie Mecham is Marie Laurncine; and George Ohrn is Rose, the cross-dressing ladies' room crasher.
As the play progresses, time passes, and the issues change. The best comes last. Vicki Pugmire is a lovely Georgia O'Keefe and Christina Thurmond transforms herself beautifully into a variety of sex symbol/artists' models, eventually becoming Marilyn Monroe.
The play, written by Robert Patrick, offers a feast for the mind and the imagination. There are so many historical and artistic allusions, and yet he plows new ground, too. What if Marilyn Monroe had actually met Georgia O'Keefe? What if she had actually had one good friend who was a woman artist to tell her to be true to her craft, to tell her that the power was within her, not in the men she slept with?
So OK, on opening night, this production was a bit rough. The actors committed some fumbles and bumbles, and the French accents were difficult for some, and the background music occasionally overpowered their voices. (And yet, you could see the importance of the music. The cadences emphasized the actors words, and their words were spoken in time to the music and it was all extremely entertaining and amusing -- or had the potential to be.)
All in all, this production was enjoyable -- and has the promise of being truly stunning.
Sensitivity rating: Some partial nudity.