Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

20 Days of Thanks 2012: Days 6-8

Today (and yesterday and the day before and probably most definitely tomorrow) I’m thankful for… Rob Ashford.

Rob Ashford

Yep, I got a little behind on giving thanks. But if there’s one guy that deserves three day’s worth, it’s director-choreographer Rob Ashford. There’s only a handful of people in the theatre world that I’d (pay to) see anything they’re involved with, and Ashford’s one of them. In fact, of the five shows of his that I’ve seen, I saw two of them three times each — and I can’t say that about anybody else, or any other show for that matter.

I was first introduced to Ashford’s work when I saw his Parade at the Donmar Warehouse in London. His inherent understanding of the unique strengths and power of the musical form transformed the once-distancing Parade into a pulsing, searing social commentary that unflinchingly implicated its audience at every turn, yet never alienated. It was absolutely astounding, and it inspired my entire Master’s thesis (most unfortunately, there are no clips available, but you can see bits of his genius in this semi-cheesy video of the subsequent L.A. production).

His super-stylish choreography was the best part of last season’s mixed-bag Evita and it was the only reason to see such flops as The Wedding SingerCry Baby

and Promises, Promises:

But it was his big, bold Broadway movement in the recent revival slash Daniel Radcliffe star vehicle, How to Succeed, that Ashford really shone, interjecting movement where before there was none, and creating so many simultaneous, intricate stage pictures that unless you had an aerial view, you were bound to miss something:

I’m thankful for Rob Ashford’s sophisticated-sexy spin on classic Broadway choreography and his inherent sense of how musicals move, both within and without the big production numbers.

For more info about 20 Days of Thanks, go here.

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