Hello Beautiful People,
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the very last show of the 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival, Castle Walk, book, (music, and lyrics by Milton Granger, with additional materials by Jere Lee Hodgin.)
The premise of the show is thus – It’s 1938, RKO is making “The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and they’ve hired Irene Castle herself to be an advisor on the film. Torn between her wish to honor her late husband and the director’s desire to bring in the movie on time and under budget, Irene sifts through a lifetime of memories – and some of the most romantic dance sequences ever created.
Now, before Castle Walk, I had never heard of Vernon and Irene Castle. Fred Astaire? Yes. Ginger Rogers? Absolutely. The Castle couple? Not so much. So, needless to say, I was intrigued. There’s something about the classic elegance of the 1920s and 1930s culture and cinema that never grows old. There’s a beauty in the movement, in the costumes, in the language itself.
So, as always, BRAVO to the entire cast – Lynne Wintersteller, James Clow, Bret Shuford, Wayne W. Pretlow, Stephanie Rothenberg, Mia Michelle McClain, May-Elise Martinsen, Ashley Chasteen, Lauren Sprague, Jonathan Stahl, Jesse Factor, and Chris Kane.
The dancing was beautiful. The entire audience was completely transfixed, and I am not surprised in the least that Richard Stafford was awarded the 2013 NYMF Award for Excellence in Choreography. It is absolutely well deserved. When watching the ensemble, Vernon (Bret Shuford), and Young Irene (Stephanie Rothenberg), it was as if you were transported to a different era, an easier time. You forgot that you were in the PTC Performance Space, and you just got swept up in the elegance, the movement, and the beauty of it all.
Special attention must be paid to Lynne Wintersteller. She’s was absolutely outstanding. Outstanding. It was a pleasure to watch her, Stephanie Rothenberg, and Bret Shuford share the stage. An absolute pleasure.
Irene Castle is a woman longing for the past, for what was, and trying to make sense of her place in there here and now – Wintersteller played that to utter perfection. A feeling that I have no doubt many people go through, not just older folk, not just former “stars” – the feeling of not knowing where one fits, not knowing how to move on with ones future and yet preserve the tenderness of ones past, well, that speaks to everyone.
It was a pleasure to go back in time with the cast, crew, and creative team of Castle Walk. I have high hopes for the future of this show, where it finds a home next .
Live, Love, Learn,