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‘Monsters, Mayhem’ in Potluck for Kids

Dance Review

Apr. 28, 2010
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“Monsters, Mayhem & Mac ’n Cheese”is a family-oriented program of dance-theater works by Dani Kuepper, artistic director of Danceworks Performance Company. Like the best animated movies, it’s intended to appeal to the child in us all. It will surely be memorable for the many children who enjoyed the Sunday afternoon performance I attended, and I recommend that you take kids to the Oconomowoc Arts Center when the program is repeated at 7 p.m. April 30 and May 1. I left the show grateful for all I’d been given, but wishing for more complexity.

Humor and tenderness abound. Potluck presents the stereotyped women I associate withappliance commercials presenting pastel casseroles at a potluck picnic and competing for acclaim. The sole male is flat-footed and off-tempo. The fact that it’s all set to the “Emperor Waltz” by Johann Strauss is already hilarious, and the full-out acting of the dancers kept me in stitches. The waltz was performed with immense charm by seven musicians from the Milwaukee Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Both Frogs and Wild Things feature engagingly nonhuman movement by the titular characters, excellent costumes and narrative suspense: Will the princess escape the frogs; will the boy control the beasts?

For When the Bough Breaks, the all-ages audience was given props to arrange on stage as an obstacle course symbolic of real-world dangers. In Maestro,the audience stole the show by design, dancing steps they’d (sort of) rehearsed in a joyous pre-show workshop, while Kuepper in a tux—mom as vaudeville clown—conducted.


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