Zoetic Stage's “Dancing Lessons” is a 100 minute one act (don't worry, it plays like 30) filled with laughter, joy and tenderness. Written by Mark St Germaine, one liners fly and the audience adores. They love too the actors, Lindsey Corey and and Caleb Scott. And Stuart Meltzer's direction. Love, love, love.
But here's the thing: I bet your Momma taught you to never make fun of people with disabilities and here's Caleb Scott playing Ever Montgomery, autistic. And he's bloody brilliant. He's a twitchy, awkward geek, flinging himself, mentally and physically in every direction at once. And he's hilarious. A demented grasshopper. And everyone laughs. Loudly. Oh, Momma.
But Stuart Meltzer's pretty brilliant himself. He's presented such a charming show that the sad side of the laughter is never obvious. The wonderfully quiet work of Lindsey Corey is his catalyst.
The Plot? Lights up on Michael McKeever's low rise mini mod set and Lindsey Corey, playing Senga (dyslexic aunt) Quinn, is lying in her armchair, blanket covered, finishing one bottle of wine, taking pills, finding another bottle, drowning her bitterness at losing her Broadway dancing career because she got whacked by a hack on the streets of NYC. She's wearing a full length leg brace; her knee now in many parts.
Her doorbell rings and here's Ever, her upstairs neighbor, offering her $2163, her usual one week's wage, for a one hour dance lesson. She refuses, he prevails and the dancing begins.
He's a university professor teaching geo science, she's just separated from her live in lover; no marriage, kids or house in the 'burbs for her.
He's being honored at an awards dinner, hence the dance lesson; she can't have her knee operation because the anesthetic may kill her.
He can't bear to be touched and cannot touch anyone else. No cheek to cheek here.
Senga is a sweet girl. She's had a tough life, raised by her aunt, lied to, but managed to hit her pinnacle. Now it's being taken away. But she's still sweet. And they touch. And then some more. And they drink.
Maybe you can figure out the rest. No tales from me. Except that “Dancing Lessons” is one of the very best of Zoetic's recent productions. And that's putting it high on anyone's list.
Speaking of productions, the off stage stars are Michael McKeever for scenic design, Rebecca Montero for lighting, Angelina Esposito for costumes, Matt Corey for sound, Natalie Tavares for props and for the choreography, Jeni Hacker.
“Dancing Lessons” plays through March 25 at the Carnival Studio Theater, Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami. 305-949-6722 www.arshtcenter.org