Movin' Out!

Kates and I enjoyed one of the perks of being in the media last night – complimentary tickets to opening night of ‘Movin’ Out’ at the Marcus Center in Milwaukee.

Awesome – whether you’re a fan of Billy Joel music or just plain good dancing. Essentially this musical is a ballet and interpretive dance set to a collection of Billy Joel’s greatest hits. It’s a Billy Joel concert without Billy Joel.

Forget trying to follow the plot. For one, it’s kind of flimsy – it’s set in Long Island during the ‘60s with a high school friends. Brenda and Eddie are finished, while James and Judy are set to marry, and Tony is looking for love. … As the first act moves on, all three men go to combat and James is killed, leaving Eddie and Tony to return home as Judy mourns. …

Act II takes the characters through the decade of the '70s as they deal with loneliness, drugs and self-loathing. But just as they always seem to do on Broadway, everybody reconnects in the end and yada, yada, yada.

Without knowing the story going in, I found ‘Movin’ Out’ harder to follow than other rock operas I’ve seen – ‘Tommy,’ ‘Rent’ – obviously because the music wasn’t written specifically for the show. Rather, the musical was choreographed to Billy Joel’s songs. The audience must rely on dancing, not lyrics, to understand the story.

Nonetheless, much of the dancing was amazing and incredible to watch – especially Julieta Gros, who played the part of Judy (look at those eyes!), although I could’ve done without a lot of the male dancing scenes that seemed to repetitively alter between fun-loving, playful boys and pushing and shoving …

And the band!? That, of course for me, was the best part. The band was set up on a giant catwalk above the stage putting them in perfect view of the audience for the entire show (I often caught myself watching them jam and paying little attention to the dancing ...) Stinging guitar, blaring brass and searing harmonies all combined with Darren Holden’s incredible voice and piano pounding.

I knew the band was gonna be good before the curtain even rose – we could hear them warming up backstage with a jam of Toto’sRosanna’ (minus the vocals). Yeah. ... and then they brought down whetever was left of the house at the end with an encore jam of Billy Joel's "Scenes From An Italian Restuarant."

So with my interest about the show piqued, I did some internet searching today, and found this review from the KC Star. Turns out the same ‘Movin’ Out’ we saw last night played in my beloved Kansas City last week.

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