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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Vaudeville comes to the 21st century

Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat Keith Nelson, aka “Kinko the Clown” and star of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, displays his best club-juggling skills while balancing on a unicycle at the Stevie Eller Dance Theater on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Nelson was casting for The New Vaudeville Revue’s big juggle finale.

Already known for showcasing outstanding productions throughout the year, UA Dance is giving a new twist to the traditional performance scene with its presentation of The New Vaudeville Revue.

Unless you were alive in the early 1900s, the height of its popularity in the United States, vaudeville may be an unfamiliar concept. Trendy from the late 1800s to around the 1930s, vaudeville is a form of theatrical entertainment composed of variety acts.

Each act on the playbill would be unique, completely unrelated to the other acts of the show, each hoping to appeal most to the audience. From magicians and trained animals to musicians, acrobats and dancers, an audience rarely knew what to expect when seeing a show.

Although we no longer live in the vaudeville era and new forms of entertainment have long since come onto the scene, UA Dance is adapting this historic performance type to accommodate our fast-paced, action-crazed and entertainment-hungry society.

“”The New Vaudeville Revue is a 21st (century) re-invention of the vaudeville genre of variety acts,”” said director Douglas Nielsen, a professor in the UA School of Dance. “”It alternates singing, dancing, film and acts of skill.””

While The New Vaudeville Revue will be performed in the UA School of Dance’s Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, UA dancers will not be the only performers taking the stage. Keeping with the character of vaudeville, numerous acts will be sharing the limelight. UA Dance has brought in a wide range of artists, including Kinko the Clown and other members of the world-renowned Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.

In an additional collaboration, an overture by The Stevie Eller Orchestra will open the show. With guest musicians and singers, this unique ensemble was formed by co-producer Suzanne Knosp for this occasion. Of course, the UA Dance Ensemble will also be displaying its talent in the spirit of vaudeville. With three faculty works by acclaimed choreographers Nielsen, Michael Williams and Sam Watson, audiences are sure to enjoy a spectacle of rhythmic tapping, slapstick comedy and a new spin on your typical strip tease. Spectators will also get the special opportunity to witness UA Dance department heads Melissa Lowe and Jory Hancock, along with Nielsen, perform in a silent movie filmed at Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson in 1988. Other featured performances include juggling, sword swallowing and a high wire act on pointe. Local jugglers from Tucson will also appear in the final act.

Offering such a wide variety of performances, The New Vaudeville Revue is certain to appeal to even the most unlikely theatergoer. Whatever may be the case, it will be unlike anything you have ever experienced at a UA performance. As Nielsen put it, “”expect to be surprised.””

To get tickets:

Call the College of Fine Arts Box Office: (520) 621-1162

General admission is $23, $12 for students.

Tickets will also be sold at the door, but come early since shows sell out quickly.

Dates and times:

Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

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