“It’s you,” was my obvious turn of phrase when I saw her. I was belting out something not quite a statement or declaration. It was an exclamation with a point.
Even in her exhaustion, she was a beauty to behold. She had that radiant and alluring classic fifties pinup girl look. Her sweat and primp-tortured hair was somehow still perfectly in place. It was a rich hickory color, tight and bouffant all at once. Her eyes were bulbous and inviting like a bewitching vintage doll to match her porcelain skin. The blush and lips candy red, and she looked good enough to eat while she clumsily gulped from her bottle of water as she schlepped her dance bag on her back.
I was waiting for the A train back to go uptown when I saw her as I was thinking about all those “…and another hundred people…” platform thoughts. I had already decided that she was my muse, or rather that she decided for me – because more than anyone and anything around, again she really stood out.
Her name is Kristin Piro, and she is entertainment personified.
She is the Dance Captain of the now running and open-ended show Trip of Love showing at Stage 42. Conceived, directed and choreographed by Joffery and American Ballet Theater alumni, James Walski, Piro was part of the original cast who developed and presented the world premiere of the sixties sociopolitical dance theater extravaganza. Drawing from some of the most recognizable music hits of the decade, the show is a tribute not only to the era, but to the old Broadway revue-style gems that used to be common fare on The White Way decades ago.
It is fascinating to see what happens when you put together an award-winning production staff, a ballet master and a relatively “emerging artist” cast. The costumes and stage design boast the wow spectacle that is indicative of a Broadway show while the choreography is unfathomable in its complexity and intensity. Those elements alone make for a visually striking display, but the performance suffered because of it.
The actors and dancers were barely allowed a moment to do what they do best because everything was so placed. From the bright and brilliant (and ridiculously expensive looking) props to each battement and pas de bouree, there was a 5-6-7-8 for everything and you could see the pained look on the performers faces – insecure about and distracted by perfection that was obviously demanded by the veteran ballerina.
Trip of Love is quite a trip as duly noted by my neighbors in the theatre. To one side I had a couple who had went through similar experiences commented within the context of the show (see: Make Love Not War) and the woman squeezed her man’s hand between tears from time to time. On the other side of me I had two seemingly sisters who were debating about which singer had the best voice, a hard argument to win indeed as all of the cast were strong.
I kept waiting for something to happen, and what happened every time was when Kristin Piro entered the stage. She had that va-va-voom and expertly captured (or stole) those moments to shine away from the glitz the glamor and the enormous amount of beautiful choreography. A wink, a nod, a bump, a smile, a shimmy – these were those nuances that were missing from the overall performance, and these little connections to the audience were barely afforded to us because of the exorbitant spectacle.
“It was really hard to watch the rest of the show when you were dancing,” I blushed. Piro thanked me and I asked her a few questions about the performances as New York played its rushing song in the background.
She told me that the cast is different almost every night so they have to re-stage everything (which explained some of the spacing issues I noticed in one or two numbers) within hours of opening curtain. She loves the show and obviously she loves what she does. It’s needles like this that are found in the haystack of the White Way that makes theater great and worthwhile. Piro took us back to a time with her brilliant characterization and consummate stage presence. Let’s hope that there is more of her in the future.
Trip of Love
Created, Directed and Choreographed by James Walski
Presented by Makoto Deguchi, Hiroki Kozawa, and Masu H. Masuyama
In Association with:
Debi Coleman, Takeo Nakanishi and Kunihiko Ukifune
Featuring: Joey Caleveri, David Elder, Kelly Felthous, Dionne Figgins, Austin Miller, Tara Palsha, Kristin Piro, Laurie Wells
Stage 42 – 422 West 42nd Street (Between 9th & 10th)
Tickets: $35.00+ @ www.tripoflove.com