I had once read that in order to create great theater one must push the boundaries and challenge the audience to think outside of the box.
On Thursday I was invited to my dear friend Sage Snakechalmer’s debut of her new play Private Dancer. The play which combines both stage and media components invites the audience into the internal struggle of one of Hollywood’s most treasured and iconic “triple threats” Rita Hayworth. Sage not only portrays Rita she also serves as the plays writer and producer.
For anyone who knows the story of Rita Hayworth one cannot help but be total in awe of the incredible heart and determination she had as both a woman and as a performer. She was a total warrior with her career taking flight at the tender age of six years old. From there her life was a fight, dealing with the many men in her life ranging from her overbearing father, to her five husbands and Columbia pictures Studio executive Harry Cohn. Yet what was so very magical about Rita Hayworth was the way in which she overcame and that was through dance. Her career was a memorable one spanning for almost 50 years. Then in 1987 she passed away after loosing her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
The genius of Sage’s show directed by Bob Degus is the play on the cerebral. Never is there a dull moment. When Sage is not on stage the audience is left to watch a film (with impeccable cinematography) which transports you into Rita’s psyche. It juxtaposes the woman and the celebrity, It separates Margarita Carmen Cansino from Rita Hayworth. It takes you through the slowly fading memories of this iconic woman as she struggles to take hold of the woman she wants to be. Not even dance can save her as she struggles with the men, the alcoholism, and the press. The piece as a whole manages to foreshadow the Alzheimer’s disease which she lost her life to, and drives home a very powerful message. I found myself experiencing a roller coaster of emotions and left feeling as if I had been part of something rather extraordinary. If you are in New York, or if you are in the Tri-State area, challenge your senses and please please please go and support this piece of theater.
The show Private Dancer will be running at The Lion Theater at Theater Row in New York City until December 21st. Performances are Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat at 8pm and Sun at 3pm. Tickets are $35.00 and proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association NY chapter. Check out the link below for ticket information! Clothing by Zac Posen.