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Date: Fri 17-Sep-1999



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Date: Fri 17-Sep-1999

Publication: Bee

Author: SHIRLE

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THEATRE REVIEW: A Great Show Of "Spirit"

By June April

NEW HAVEN -- It's refreshing to experience theatre that is original, yet

universal in its appeal. A successful run of Spirit , when it arrives on

Broadway, is a pretty sure bet. All the elements are there: exciting music, a

credible story line, fascinating choreography and interesting set designs.

This celebration of dance, drums and music had its first exposure to a live

audience at its opening at New Haven's legendary Shubert Performing Arts

Center on September 14. Running through the 26th of this month, it is well

worth the trip and the price of the ticket. Perhaps best of all, Spirit is

appropriate for all ages.

Conceived by Peter Buffett, who clearly has a tremendous affinity to and

appreciation of Native American culture, the production benefits from the

collaborative efforts of Chief Hawk Pope and its director and choreographer,

Wayne Cilento.

There is a qualitative scope of embracing more than this country's native

cultures in Spirit . Physically staged on dual levels, there are also multiple

ramifications of cross-cultural blending explored here.

There are a number of different Native American tribes involved, as well as

various other nationalities. That's part of the universal statement of this


A variety of drums is used, as are electric instruments melding with

traditional instruments. Composer Peter Buffett plays the keyboards and Chief

Hawk Pope serves as narrator.

At center stage and on an upper level are traditional Native American

musicians. The talented Robert Mirabel is a noted soloist on flute and native


There are over fifty performers in Spirit , about half of them dancers who

flow and leap on stage in both traditional and modern dance sequences. At

times it feels rather like watching a flight of birds on the wing, shifting

their formation in unexpected and exciting patterns and direction. The

costumes are spectacular, as are the dancers.

The journey that Spirit explores is of finding peace and fulfillment by

delving into one's heritage. It is a promise of hope and optimism, and

understanding. The theme of circle and thereby connections runs through this

production on many levels.

Produced by Back Row Productions/Peter Holmes a Court, Spirit is a tantalizing

promise of realized creativity. This is the kind of theatre one could enjoy

more than once.

(Curtain times are 7:30 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There are 2 pm

matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $28 to $50. For

further information, call 624-1825.)

Comments are open. Be civil.

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