“Fan Dance,” Downtown Cabaret, Bridgeport

--Irene Backalenick

There is no doubt that Misty Rowe (who conceived, wrote, directed and
performed in “Fan Dance”) has put her heart—and life story—into the show. And
there is no doubt that it is cathartic to pen one’s memoirs. But such efforts do
not guarantee professional shows, and, in fact, “Fan Dance”—now at Downtown
Cabaret--falls short of its goals in every sense. Though Downtown Cabaret has
provided the venue for this show, it is producer New York Theatrical Productions
(and not the Cabaret) which must bear responsibility for this fiasco.

To begin, Rowe has attempted to interweave two tales—her own and that
of the one-time famed fan dancer Sally Rand. The result is a confusing script
which leaves the viewer vainly attempting to make sense of it all. More often
than not, musical revues provide too little story, but this time around the
opposite is true. Misty Rowe cannot decide which tale she wants to tell—Sally
Rand’s or her own—and it is only at the end of the evening that all disparate
threads are pulled together. She has used the tenuous connection between herself
and Rand to prove the similarity of their dreams and survival instincts.

Worse yet, each musical number is disappointingly amateurish. And video
scenes flashed on screen (meant to carry the story through the tumultuous
twentieth century) are equally amateurish. Moreover, Rowe has recruited old-time
stand-up comic Steve Rossi to be part of the proceedings. Rossi moves center
stage and offers his corny routine, which brings all action to a halt. His
appearance has nothing to do with the story or the show. It all indicates that
Rowe may indeed be a successful entertainer (according to her program credits),
but she falters as a writer, director and choreographer.

Yet, to be fair, there is one moving moment in the second act dealing
with Rand’s decision to adopt an infant. This scene is straight dialogue, with
no song-and-dance routine involved, which proves to be its saving grace.
 
All told, the highlight of the evening is the Sally Rand fan dance
number. No, not the dance itself, but the two pairs of gorgeous ostrich feathers
which encase the dancer. In short, we can, without reservation, give a rave
review to the feathers.

This show runs until Apr. 25. This review appears in the Connecticut Post and on
nytheaterscene.com.

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