Matthew Lopez’ “Somewhere” at Hartford Stage

 By Tom Nissley

Run, don’t walk, to get tickets to this amazing presentation of a play about dance, with dance, and all about dance. It’s a brilliant confection and a heartwarming story of the fabulous Candelarias at a point in their lives in 1958 when they are being thrown out of their home in the distressed area once known as Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. Inez Candelaria (the magnificent Priscilla Lopez) is the mother of two sons, Francisco (Zachary Infante), Alejandro (Michael Rosen), and one daughter, Rebecca (Jessica Naimy) and also adopted a friend of the family named Jamie (Cary Tedder), who in the story has been hired as Jerome Robbins assistant while Robbins is directing the filming of West Side Story. That is important for Inez, because not only is she a dancer, but she has taught and dreamed of dancing all her married life.

We get to hear stories of how she met and married a handsome singer/dancer many years ago, and watch lots of wonderful family interaction between Alejandro and Francisco and Jamie and Rebecca, who are each in some way trying hard to live up to the family myth and want to be dancers too. The plot is so touching and in many ways so believable that I found my eyes tearing when I started to describe it to a friend. The acting is superb, and although the family described is a piece of good fiction, the events that surround them in the place they live did happen as blocks and blocks of housing and bodegas were cleared to make way for Lincoln Center.

I can’t imagine who would not like this interesting production. The set by Donyale Werle takes full advantage of Hartford Stage’ space and includes, early on, long lengths of clothesline with dozens of garments stretched across the upper reaches. High rows of windows also hang above the stage; they get good use by lighting designer Philip S. Rosenberg during some of the dance scenes, which have been put together by Choreographer Greg Graham. Costumes are designed by Amy Clark. The cast of five superb dancers could be called an ensemble, as well, and you’ll think of them as the wonderful Candelarias long after you leave their arena.

Hurrah, hurrah, for this show, which will be presented through May 4. Tickets and information at www.hartfordstage.org, or 860-527-5151.

Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre

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