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Theater Review: “Dancing Lessons”

“Dancing Lessons” plays through December 18, 2018 at the Broadway Theater, 340 East Broadway, Vista.
Photo credit:
Broadway Theater

Broadway dancer Senga Quin, sidelined by a knee injury, sits on her couch feeling depressed and living in denial about what may be a lost future in dance.

She wears a knee brace and has essentially sentenced herself to home arrest for fear that being seen that way by anyone in the dance world will end her career.

When the doorbell rings, she is loath to answer it, especially when she finds out it’s that weird guy who lives in her building.

But he is insistent, and she finally opens the door to Ever Montgomery, a jittery geoscientist with Asperger’s and a phobia of being touched. He wants a dance lesson and offers to pay her an outrageous sum (he’s done his research and knows what she makes) for one – count ’em, one – dance lesson.

She wants him to leave. Now. He really needs her help. Where do we go from here?

The audience gets to watch these two mismatched people – wonderfully played by Gabriela Nelson and Mike Martin – make gradual and sometimes painful attempts at human connection in Mark St. Germain’s funny and poignant one-act play “Dancing Lessons,” on the boards through Nov. 16 at Vista’s Broadway Theater. Randall Hickman directs.

Senga is a naturally expansive, outgoing person who joys in losing herself in dance. Ever is a buttoned-up scientist with connections who can hook her up with a doctor who can explain her options.

After a few aborted attempts at communication, Ever tells Senga that he is receiving an award for his scientific achievements and needs to make a speech at the awards ceremony. He may even have to dance with someone. This is way out of his comfort zone.

“How old is the crowd?” Senga asks.

“From 20s to pre-extinction,” he responds.

These are two damaged people who each have something to offer the other. He can teach her how to accept reality. She offers him imagination.

Nelson (last seen here as the title character in New Village Arts’ “Guadalupe in the Guest Room”) makes a convincing change from isolation and depression to the warmth and vibrancy we sensed from the beginning.

Martin is utterly credible as the phobia-ridden Asperger’s sufferer who needs to take the leap from logic and reason to the unknown of human connection.

Another two-actor St. Germain play, “Freud’s Last Session,” charms with its riveting philosophical debate between the famous shrink and novelist/Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. “Dancing Lessons” takes us into different territory – the fear of truth and the difficulty of emotional connection.

“Dancing Lessons” marks the beginning of Broadway Theater’s fifteenth season in Vista. Congratulations are in order for another fine production, and best wishes for the shows to follow.

The details

“Dancing Lessons” plays through December 18, 2018 at the Broadway Theater, 340 East Broadway, Vista.

Thursday thru Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.