March 23, 2013
By Rain Francis.
New Zealand-born choreographer Michael Ralph has been working away tirelessly in the independent dance scene – and it shows. Fresh from winning Most Outstanding Choreography at Short + Sweet Melbourne last year, he has created his first full-length work, Now & Then.
His concept for the show was simply to do what he loves best: bringing “old school” back. Mission accomplished. Now & Then is pure entertainment from start to finish. Expect to be transported back in time by a cast of strong, sharp and sassy dancers.
Now & Then is split into three parts, the first being What is This Thing Called Love? Set to the timeless music of Cole Porter, this section features five men and five women. A loose narrative of searching for ‘the essence of true love’ is interwoven through the collection of numbers, which includes Begin the Beguine, Too Darn Hot and Night and Day.
Part Two, Ladies of Hollywood, is a fun and sexy tribute to stage and film choreographer Jack Cole, whose work shaped the careers of Hollywood stars Marilyn Monroe, Chita Rivera and Betty Gable.
The finale is Ralph’s award-winning 2012 work Project Elvis, which has been reworked for a larger cast. It’s easy to see why this number was so popular at Short + Sweet. It’s exciting, stylish and perfectly executed by a super hot cast. Project Elvis is set to remixed versions of popular Elvis Presley songs Bossa Nova Baby, Can’t Help Falling in Love and Blue Suede Shoes, and elicited a standing ovation from the completely packed house.
Special mention must go to costume and props coordinator Gemma Kelly, who gave the entire show that extra bit of polish.
Michael Ralph’s work is fun, smart and highly professional. He’s surely the next big thing in musical theatre choreography – look out for him.
Photo from Project Elvis, courtesy of Michael Ralph.