Tommy-guns & Tootoos: “THE ODD FATHER”

TURNING POINT OF DANCE REVIEW

Turning Point of Dance held its annual showcase on Saturday, June 27, 2015 at Parker Auditorium on the campus of Bolles Middle School.
Turning Point of Dance, initially founded by Nina Nelson in 1984, has been active in Jacksonville for over twenty years. After Nelson’s death in 2011, Steve Gallagher, who had just recently moved to Jacksonville and just happened to have some thirty-five years of experience as a musical theatre performer, director, and dance instructor, stepped in to take over teaching, and has remained ever since, continuing the tradition as Artistic Director.
Turning Point of Dance is located at The Performers Academy, 3674 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. They offer dance classes for adults in Jazz, Tap, Lyrical and classical Ballet, for those over the age of 17 who want to dance for exercise or for fun. Students also have the opportunity to perform at a number of shows in the area. Additional information can be found at turningpointofdance.com.
We reviewed “A Step in Time,” Gallagher’s first show with Turning Point performers back in 2011 and since we so enjoyed that first show, we were excited about the opportunity to see this talented group again.

The production, titled “The Odd Father,” was done in two parts. The first segment was a dance concert with nine selections highlighting styles of dance taught at the studio. “The Minettes,” a group of ladies of varying ages, specialized in tap dance. They performed “Jeepers Creepers,” “Beyond The Sea,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” songs the audience knew and appreciated. We especially liked their sailor and military outfits. These energetic dancers included Vera Gallagher, Kim Garland, Karen Kirk, Beverly Saulter, Sandy Smith, Danita Stokes, Suzi Stone and Juanelle Marshall, who in addition to dancing, designed and made all the costumes for the show. Adrienne Houghton choreographed.
Other selections featured ballet, lyrical, and jazz. “Love Without Tragedy” was performed by the Turning Point Lyrical Class, and choreographed by Bethany Dechman. “Facades” featured April Dalzell and the Lyrical class, and was choreographed by Dalzell and Bethany Dechman. “300,” a solo performance, featured Alexa Ingram and was also choreographed Bethany Dechman

Two performances by the Braided Light Dance Project were choreographed by Sarah Messenger. “Sarabande” featured Chelsea Hilding,” “Hurricane Isabel” featured Hilding and Amber Daniels.
This segment finished with “Zip Gun Bop” choreographed by Steve Gallagher, and featured the husband and wife team of Haibin Zheng and Yuying Chi, a young couple who gave a very polished performance, although they have been dancing together for only two years.
As critics we had not been to a dance concert in quite a while and we were impressed by all the participants.
After a brief intermission, the evening continued with Steve Gallagher’s original production, a satire of mostly Mafia humor which the cast delivered with commitment. It was like a Saturday Night Live skit, a fluffy exercise in high octane pleasure devoid of any need for deep thought, but fully satisfying to the full house audience of four hundred patrons.
Mr. Gallagher played the Odd Father, who is facing a family crisis: his son isn’t interested in continuing with a life in crime; he wants a career as an actor instead. Others in the cast included the broads and guys and family members in his life: Leann Williams (Minnie the Moocher), Andy Thompson (Cheech), Alison Webb (Grandma Calzone), Kevin Grab (Garbanzo Calzone), Paul Vranesh (Benny), Kimberly Patrie (Og) and Laura Reardon (Hugh Jass). The Dons were played by Kim Garland (Don King), Leann Williams (Don Quixote), Lisa Wright (Don Juan) and Heaven Marshall (Don Johnson). The youngest gangster in the bunch was Lillian Gallagher, six-years-old and a real trooper.
The show included eight songs performed by skilled top-notch lip-sync artists. The songs were of course, only there to provide a context for the extravagant settings and elaborate dance numbers of the story. Three of the numbers were not only our favorites, but favorites of the audience as well, judging from the reaction and applause,
Kevin Grab, dressed in a fantastic white suit with pinstripes, looked like he was really belting out “Broadway Melody.” Paul Vranesh had everyone laughing with “I Feel Pretty,” from “West Side Story,” sung in a high-flying falsetto voice. And while we enjoyed all the songs, our absolute favorite was a parody of “La Bamba,” retitled “Lasagna,” which ought to be up on YouTube.
In the supporting cast, playing various roles and dancing were Nancy Balch, Katherine Bible, Ozea Brown, Trisha Coleman, Amanda Cooper, April Dalzell, Bethany Dechman, Linda Ellis, Debra Godwin, Cheryl Lee, Heaven Marshall, Lily Morris, Kristin Murray, Rebecca Rymes, Alison Webb and Lisa Wright.
We won’t give away the ending; who knows, this might turn up on TV someday. (The MeeMee TV crew was there filming).
Well, if youze guys missed this show you missed one with relentless razzle-dazzle and an anything for a laugh spirit that infused the entire production. As theatre critics, we noted the performance was well-rehearsed, with many pre-performance hours required for this one-time production. The many set pieces and props were all transported to this venue and added much to the production.
Thanks for a great evening of entertainment! In talking with Mr. Gallagher after the show, he indicated he already has a theme in mind for the next extravaganza and we are already looking forward to next year’s showcase.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.