Movin' Out – Original Broadway Cast Recording 2002
Twlya Tharp meets Billy Joel Director/choreographer Twyla Tharp began listening to Billy Joel when they were both starting out, both chronicling the same era, but in art forms that would seem worlds apart. He played in piano bars. But as a child of her parents' drive-in movie in Rialto in Southern California, Twyla Tharp was no stranger to popular culture.
Creating a theater piece in which the songs of Billy Joel told the story of a generation in dance was her idea. After working in a studio with her company on a few songs ("just to be sure that the music really dances the way that I thought it did"), she invited Billy Joel - whom she had never met - to watch a videotape. He believed in the idea and gave his blessing to a show without spoken dialogue. "One of the attractions for Billy was that I said, "look, your language is the script."
But how to create a narrative out of over two dozen songs written over the course of more than twenty-five years?
Starting with the unhappily-ever-after story of Brenda and Eddie from Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, and adding the eponymous James, Judy from Why, Judy, Why and the hapless Tony from Movin' Out (Anthony's Song), Twyla Tharp created the story of a group of friends from Hicksville whose lives remain intertwined through high school romance, bustups, Vietnam, the high life and hitting bottom.
Essentially "Italian Restaurant" begins with Eddie driving in a '65 Mustang and it's breaking down, [but] he's a mechanic, he can fix it. That was the American attitude at that time: 'if it's broke, we can fix it.' That was us. And then the Vietnam War came and showed us that we can't always fix what's broke. It had a very corrosive effect on our lives here in America. End of Act I. Act II is simple: survival. And redemption . . .
Twyla Tharp makes it very clear, however, that her aim is not nostalgia for any specific time and place. This is not about Hicksville, per se.
The thing that makes dance powerful is that the audience can project its own story up there . . . if you tell it without too much detail. It's not supposed to look like Hicksville, it's supposed to look like your small town or your suburban roots. Not Billy Joel's, not mine, but yours.
Billy Joel handpicked the Movin' Out band, creating a tight ensemble of ten players (many of whom he has recorded and toured with) to bring his characteristic sound to the stage. With guitar wizard Tommy Byrnes leading the band, pianist-singer Michael Cavanaugh delivers each song with spirit and style worthy of Billy Joel himself.
Twyla Tharp assembled a cast of twenty-six dancers, including Twyla Tharp; Dance and American Ballet Theater veteran, John Selya; Elizabeth Parkinson, Outer Critics' Circle nominee for Fosse; Keith Roberts, who appeared on Broadway in Fosse and as the Swan in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake; Ashley Tuttle, soloist and principal dancer of American Ballet Theater; Benjamin Bowman, formerly of New York City Ballet; and Tony Award® winner Scott Wise.
Together, this formidable company has embraced the challenge of enacting Twyla Tharp's vision of one of America's most pivotal eras.
His songs have sold over 100 million albums worldwide, but Billy Joel has turned recently to more classical composition, as can be heard in solo piano pieces like "Elegy," "Reverie" and "Waltz No.1." His development and maturing as a songwriter and composer runs parallel to the growth of an American generation. A generation that Twyla Tharp sees as finding its roots in the '60s, and trying its soul in the '70s.
- Emily King
Eddie: John Selya
Tony: Keith Roberts
James: Benjamin G. Bowman
Judy: Ashley Tuttle
Brenda: Elizabeth Parkinson
Sergeant O’Leary/Drill Sergeant: Scott Wise
The Ensemble: Mark Arvin, Karine Bageot, Alexander Brady, Holly Cruikshank, Ron de Jesus, Melissa Downey, Pascale Faye, Scott Fowler, David Gomez, Rod McCune, Jill Nicklaus, Rika Okamoto
Swings: Andrew Allagree, Aliane Baquerot, Laurie Kanyok, William Marrié, Meg Paul, Lawrence Rabson, Dana Stackpole, John J. Todd
The Movin’ Out Band:
Piano/lead vocals: Michael Cavanaugh
Guitar/vocals: Tommy Byrnes
Drums: Chuck Bürgi
Keyboard: Wade Preston
Trumpet: Barry Danielian
Trombone/vocals/whistler: Kevin Osborne
Lead sax/percussion: John Scarpulla
Sax: Scott Kreitzer
Lead guitar: Dennis Delgaudio
Classical piano: Stuart Malina