- PHOTOS BY SANDRA CORTEZ, ROBERT TERRY, OR CLAIR EDMONDS
I’m about medium rare when she shows up, and again, smart girl, she thinks we should do the interview in the bar. A white wine spritzer for the lady, and a Miller Lite por moi.
“So, what’s the concept behind Shimmy, Shake, Shine?” I ask.
Suzy talks fast, covers a lot of ground, and only pauses long enough to tell me she tends to go on and on. From what I can glean, Shimmy, Shake, Shine! is the culmination of all her years of experience, all her influences, and one life-altering event.
“My mom passed in December right in the middle of planning the show, and I suddenly found myself in a much darker place,” Suzy admits, as she rearranges her brunette tendrils of hair and sips her spritzer. “The show ended up being much deeper, going to a deeper place than I intended.”
Yet, when she describes the show, saying how it moves from Alice in Wonderland to a gothic vampire lair and then to Bollywood and beyond, it seems more whimsical.
“It’s about what it means to be human, laughing at ourselves, loss and transformation, family—and that’s sort of what happens between the cast and the audience over two hours: They become like family.”
I think Suzy actually squeals with delight. Seriously! A little squeal, but a squeal nonetheless. Then instead of picking one, she talks about how each of the various choreographers would like certain parts of the show.
“Paul Taylor is the most creative, so he’d like the unpredictable nature of the show. Agnes De Mille never hung up her toe shoes; she was still choreographing from her wheelchair. She’d love seeing dancers who sing, singers who act, seeing the beauty of people who weren’t
Finally Suzy begins to talk about her cast and how she discovered Jimmy Thornton when he was working on her house.
“I was playing a Sam Cooke CD and he was singing along. ‘Holy crap you can sing,’ I said. ‘Can you lift me over your head?’ And he picked me up and bench-pressed me. I cast him in Vegas, Baby! Then I met Travis Nefore when a few dancers and I went to The Library after the show for a little post mortem. We were dancing and he came up and said, ‘Are you theater geeks?’ We’re, like, ‘Yes!’ ‘My people,’ he said.”
“Well, first, I wouldn’t call you fat,” she says diplomatically. “You’re built … sturdy. And you know my audition process: Can you lift me over your head?”
We’ll leave that questioned unanswered.
Glen Starkey takes a beating and keeps on bleating. Keep up with him via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at Myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.