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24 September 2014
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Making Contact - 17.10.02
Contact
Lady in yellow: Leigh Zimmerman in the dance and dialogue-driven new show Contact
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Broadway choreographer Susan Stroman injects new life into the dance/ musical with 'Contact'....

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Entertainment correspondent Brenda Emmanus talks to Susan Stroman. Includes extracts from the show and a review by theatre critic Michael Coveney...

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Contact is a show quite unlike any other that's been seen on a London musical theatre stage.

For a start, though it won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2000, it's not really a musical at all - no new music was written for it, nor is any of it played live, nor does it tell a single story.

Instead, it is essentially three separate dance and dialogue pieces, telling of their characters' attempts to connect with one another.

ContactIt is the creation of the most commercially successful contemporary Broadway choreographer alive: Susan Stroman, whose current credits stretch from the new dances she provided for the current import of the National Theatre's production of Oklahoma! to New York's ongoing biggest success with a stage version of Mel Brooks's cult movie, The Producers.

But in a field where collaboration is the name of the game, it is her work on Contact that has come most directly from her own creative impulses.

The longest section, a story set in a Manhattan pool hall turned dance hall where a New York advertising exec finds himself in the small hours of the morning, was inspired by a real-life event that the choreographer saw one night, observing a yellow-dressed young woman working the room of a club:

"She was clearly there to make contact," Stroman remembers. "As I watched her, I thought to myself, by the end of the night this girl is going to change some guy's life."

Contact

Leigh Zimmerman, a tall, striking American singer/dancer who has starred in the London production of Chicago, plays The Girl in the Yellow Dress, opposite Michael Praed as the advertising executive.

In the two shorter sections that comprise the first half, an 18th-century painting that hangs in London's Wallace Collection comes to life, and an abused wife seeks to escape from her tormenting husband in a restaurant, with the role of the wife being played by the former Royal Ballet dancer Sarah Wildor.

Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue WC2, box office: 0870 890 1110

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