Fringe review: 'Daydreams'
By Rebecca Ritzel
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
“Very earnest” is a common compliment levied at many Capital Fringe Festival shows. These performers want you to like them; they believe in what they are doing; they are making art. And if you can’t see that, well, you might just be the petulant kid who pointed out that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes.
The naked embarrassment regarding “Daydreams,” a traveling variety show put on by the Philadelphia-based Call Me Crazy Dancers, is that the troupe needs to replace its emcee and onstage singer, John Curtis. The first half of the show had some promising moments . . . and then Curtis got the microphone and started crooning, making it impossible to take the dancers seriously.
“Daydreams” opens with the stage arranged like a New York subway platform. A menagerie of humans stands around texting, filing nails and swigging hooch. The intercom announces construction delays on the L train, and then the guy with the brown paper bag starts tap dancing. A woman posing as a pregnant lady joins in, and out in the audience you’re thinking, this is pretty cute -- the Fringe equivalent of a Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movie.
That smart vibe quickly turns sentimental once the dancers start delivering monologues about dreams. The first few aren’t bad, especially musings about fear that proceed a semi-improvised section, with eight dancers responding to a soundtrack that includes sirens and crying babies. Then Curtis tells the small crowd that his childhood dream was to be Frank Sinatra, and he proceeds to live out that dream onstage. Curtis has a weak tenor and is singing mostly original tunes with bland lyrics to a canned soundtrack. It’s earnest, but Old Blue Eyes he’s not.
The dancers seem oblivious, beaming as they turn and tap around Curtis. The show includes modern, tap and Broadway styles -- a refreshing mix -- and the skill level is high, about on par with an advanced competition studio. The dancers are highly watchable, but for a Fringe variety show that’s also listenable, keep dreaming.