What would happen if you took a couple dozen soulful Billy Joel songs and set them to dance? If the choreographer is Twyla Tharp you have the energetic, Tony Award-winning Broadway show called "Movin' Out."
Craterian Performances will host the touring company production of "Movin' Out" at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.
Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Twyla Tharp with orchestrations by Stuart Malina, "Movin' Out" tells the story of a group of friends growing up on Long Island from their 1960s high school graduation to their reunion some years later. It explores their experiences with the Vietnam War and readjusting to life after it with the loves and losses experienced on the way.
Each of the friends is based on a character from the lyrics in Joel's songs: high school sweethearts Brenda and Eddie ("Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"), James ("James"), Judy ("Why Judy Why"), and Tony (Anthony in "Movin' Out").
"Movin' Out" has been called a rock ballet, a jukebox musical and a dance play without the play, as the characters do not speak any dialogue. While there are scenes, the story is conveyed by nonstop dancing and music. The Playbill provides an outline of the plot. The dances are linked by the story line.
As might be expected, Tharp's modern choreography is expressive, energetic and athletic. As befits the turbulence of the two decades the story is set in, there are poignant solos and dramatic group dances as well as exuberant celebrations of youth and friendship.
As none of the dancers sing, the "Piano Man" provides the vocals and is backed by a live band. He is actually a key performer in the show as well the lead piano player and singer in the band, playing and singing all of the show's songs. The musical numbers include:
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)—Reverie (Villa D'Este)" "Just the Way You Are" "The Longest Time" "Uptown Girl" "This Night" "Summer, Highland Falls" "Waltz #1 (Nunley's Carousel)" "We Didn't Start the Fire" "She's Got a Way" "The Stranger" "Elegy for the Fisherman" "Invention in C Minor" "Angry Young Man" "Big Shot" "Big Man on Mulberry Street—Captain Jack" "An Innocent Man" "Pressure" "Goodnight Saigon" "Air (Dublinesque") "Shameless" "James" "The River of Dreams" "Keeping the Faith" "Only the Good Die Young" "I've Loved These Days"
"Movin' Out" had its Broadway premiere in 2002, playing for 1,303 performances. In 2003, "Movin' Out" garnered the Tony Awards for Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations; 2003 Theatre World Award (John Selya); the Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography; and Astaire Awards for Best Choreographer (Twyla Tharp), Best Male Dancer (John Selya) and Best Female Dancer (Elizabeth Parkinson).
The show at the Craterian will feature the third national tour which opened last November.
Tickets are $45-$63. Tickets are available at the Craterian box office.
See craterian.org or call 779-3000.