Date: Fri 17-Sep-1999
Date: Fri 17-Sep-1999
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,
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.)