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Two Cents on Ten Cents a Dance

Controversy for Williamstown Theatre Festival

By: Charles Giuliano - 08/17/2011

Click to Enlarge
That winding staircase. Photos courtesy of T. Charles Erickson and WTF.
That winding staircase. Photos courtesy of T. Charles Erickson and WTF.
Five women with one persona.
Five women with one persona.
A hoot and a toot.
A hoot and a toot.

Ten Cents A Dance is a Million Dollar Hit

This is in the subject line of an e mail blast from Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The headline of the marketing message proclaims

“AUDIENCES AND CRITICS ARE RAVING ABOUT TEN CENTS A DANCE
CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY JOHN DOYLE FEATURING THE SONGS OF RODGERS & HART”

While WTF has every right to market and sell shows the statement is not entirely truthful.

It would be more accurate to say that Some audiences and Some critics are Raving about Ten Cents a Dance.

That is absolutely correct.

The blast quotes reviews in The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Berkshire Eagle.

"Pretty much everyone is close to perfection here."
"I remember specific expressions on the faces of everyone in this production: expressions of doubt and bitterness and wonder and, yeah, something like love.  Normally, when I get in the car to drive home from Williamstown, the first thing I do is turn on the radio. This time I drove in silence. I didn't want to dislodge all those gossamer voices and visions that Mr. Doyle had spun out of shadows and that continued to play in my head."
 
- Ben Brantley, The New York Times             
READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE                       
 
"...Doyle finds ways to suggest beginnings and endings, innocence
and disillusionment, the blooming of romance and
the souring of romance, in a single song."
 
- Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe               
READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE                   
 
"Within this fresh, original, immaculately conceived and performed
context, these remarkable American Songbook standards are
anything but standard. Ten Cents A Dance speaks to the
power of song to take narrative storytelling in directions that  
pierce the heart and fire the imagination."
 
- Jeffrey Borak, The Berkshire Eagle               
READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE                     
 
Indeed those are rave reviews. No doubt about it.

At least they are attributed to legitimate critics and not anonymous quotes extracted from Facebook or audience members videotaped by PR interns in the lobby following the opening night performance.

What the WTF marketing and PR staff are not promoting is that there  have been a range of responses to Ten Cents a Dance. The show has attracted reviews that are as harsh as the ones above are flattering. These negative reviews in turn have provoked  lively responses from readers.

So Ten Cents a Dance is the subject of lively discourse and polarized debate.

That might be viewed as a very positive and healthy circumstance. In the sense that WTF has provided a provocative wakeup call for audiences and critics. Love it or hate it everyone seems to have an opinion.

Isn’t that exactly what WTF, one of the leading theatre companies, is supposed to be doing?

In the interest of full disclosure we are offering links to some other opinions. It will be obvious why WTF is not quoting from them or providing links.

You be the judge.

Before it ends perhaps you might see this show and join in the dialogue. We would love to know what you think.

Links to

Berkshire Fine Arts

Peter Bergman in Berkshire Bright Focus.  Controversy over review   Advocate's Topix comments

Larry Murray in Berkshire on Stage (also posted to I Berkshires with comments)

Michael Eck in the Albany Times Union

Broadway World

Schnectady Gazette

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