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LET’S REVIEW: Globe’s ‘In Your Arms’ will touch your heart

Stephen Bienskie and Jenn Harris (foreground) with the cast in Christopher Durang’s vignette ‘The Dance Contest,’ part of the premiere musical ‘In Your Arms’ at The Old Globe Theatre.
Stephen Bienskie and Jenn Harris (foreground) with the cast in Christopher Durang’s vignette ‘The Dance Contest,’ part of the premiere musical ‘In Your Arms’ at The Old Globe Theatre.
( / Carol Rosegg)

San Diegans are fortunate to live in a town immersed in amazing theatrical productions. Many that are born here eventually head to Broadway. According to the audience at The Old Globe Theatre’s world premiere of “In Your Arms,” here is yet another treat bound for glory.

It’s not surprising that Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli, director, choreographer and co-conceiver of “Arms” in collaboration with Stephen Flaherty’s music, has delivered an innovative idea that raises the standards for musical theater.

The concept of having prominent writers pen a vignette told through the music and actors’ interpretations without the need for dialogue, plays out in 13 rousing works. Ballet dancers Spencer Clark and Lyrica Woodruff start the prologue off with a take on “Romeo and Juliet.” Actress/dancer Donna McKechnie (who created the role of Cassie in “A Chorus Line”) then brings her lovely voice to the stage with the song “In Your Arms.”

“The Lover’s Jacket,” by Nilo Cruz, features a feisty Glenda Sol Koeraus and Oscar Valero as intense Flamenco dancers dealing with an oppressive regime that separates them. This sets the stage for more romance-based stories to follow.

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One of the funnier ones is “Lowdown Messy Shame” by Carrie Fisher, where Jenn Harris as Fisher, reads the developing plot from her new book with ridiculous commands for the dancers, bringing gales of laughter from the audience.

The stories take place in a variety of places and touch on marriage, first dates, life changes, family memories and the passage of time. The dance styles include tangos, Charlestons, ballroom, ballet and some martial arts moves.

Along with the brilliant minds and talent behind this production, the Globe’s artistic touches to “In Your Arms” are icing on the cake. The set backdrop (set designer Derek McLane and production design Olivia Sebesky) is the Casa di Giuletta in Verona. The wall is covered with letters left by people wanting to connect with loved ones.

At one point the lighting spotlight (Donald Holder, light design) turns the letters into a beautiful red flowered background.

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For a show without dialogue, I can’t say enough about the choreographers, dancers, costumes (Jess Goldstein), musicians and directors in creating a night at the theater that entertains so well, I could’ve watched it for another hour. The passion and talent of these artists is like an electric current that runs through you providing a rush of joy and pleasure that will long be remembered.