Manhattanites will be in for a treat when Palmer Davis takes her self-penned, self-performed Suburban Showgirl to the New York United Solo Festival (on 42nd Street no less) this coming November.
In anticipation, Davis gave Angelinos a trimmed-down reminder last night of what L.A. theatergoers have been enjoying since Davis debuted Suburban Showgirl in 2007, then revised/revived it a couple years back. (SS now clocks in at a brisk, festival-friendly 65 minutes, which seems just right for a show that might have run overlong at 90.)
Palmer plays onetime Rockette Wendy Walker, now married with an elementary-school-age daughter, whose career—and personal life—have led her to her latest gig as Vegas magician’s assistant “Svetlana,” hardly what our heroine was expecting when her mom made her study ballet as a child.
Then again, Wendy probably never expected her husband’s job to take them to Vegas, nor for said hubby to find himself incarcerated, nor to find herself locked inside a backstage bathroom with just five minutes to curtain.
Fortunately (for us at least), Wendy’s unintentional solitary confinement leads the Suburban Showgirl on a trip down memory lane, from those early dance classes, to the discovery that Broadway hoofing was more her thing, to a series of auditions, callbacks, and booked gigs (including that bigtime Radio City Music Hall stint, assorted music videos, and an honest-to-goodness Broadway National Tour).
Then comes marriage and motherhood, which while providing their own measure of happiness, do lead to a career slowdown (if by “slowdown” you mean becoming a dance school instructor to kids from six to sixteen).
Those kids (including tough guy Omar, the last boy you’d ever expect to say “Gotta Dance,” which he eventually does), Wendy’s daughter and her mom, and of course every showgirl’s tough-cookie agent, are just some of the twenty or so cameos that give Davis ample opportunity to strut her acting stuff (which TV audiences have seen in her recurring role as attorney Margaret Finn in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation).
Still, if there’s anything that will have New York audiences spreading the word about Suburban Showgirl, it’s Davis’s Broadway-caliber dance prowess at 29-plus, whether executing graceful tour jetés or Ruby Keeler taps or Rockettes-ready high kicks—or perhaps most stunningly, giving us her best Cyd Charisse.
Cate Caplin directs with accustomed finesse, sharing choreographer credit with her leading lady. Music director/composer Ross Källing provides expert keyboard accompaniment throughout (and a bit of acting along the way). Steve Pope’s lighting is first rate as are Davis’s costumes (quite a few of them) and the production’s sound effects. Gregory Fuller is stage manager/dramaturg.
New York theatergoers can mark November 17 on their calendars, cause that’s when “Once A Rockette, Always A Rockette” Wendy Walker will be back in town.
July 20, 2015