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Come Fly Away Reviews: Sinatra and Tharp’s lovely (plotless) duet

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“Come Fly Away,” the musical conceived, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp that opened Thursday at the Marquis Theater on Broadway, might not be for everybody, since there is no real story, but it certainly seems to appeal to most critics, who praised the use of Frank Sinatra’s recorded voice blended with a 19-piece live band, and above all the dancing.

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Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times: This is not a musical about lovers or even about love (although it might be for lovers, a good show to bring a date.) “Come Fly Away” is acrobatics and attitude, in abundance. Call it a jukebox ballet, consider it a medley with benefits. Be open to being entertained.

Frank Scheck, Reuters:
The show will best be appreciated by dance aficionados rather than general audiences, who might be put off by the lack of a coherent story line. Still, the wonderful dancing, not to mention the Sinatra magic, might help propel the show to a good run.


Charles Isherwood, New York Times

In this dazzling new dance musical…[Twyla]. Tharp deploys a stage full of brilliant performers to heighten the theatrical allure of ballroom dance, complementing the immortal appeal of Sinatra’s singing with movement that captures the underlying emotional tensions in it. …If the show’s visual aspects are never too far from the generic nostalgia of the likes of “Dancing With the Stars” (though nowhere near as tacky, thank heaven), the music and the dancing transcend the familiarity of the milieu. Rather than simply using recorded music, which often has a dampening effect on live dance performances, Ms. Tharp has elected to blend Sinatra’s vocals with live musicians.
It’s a daring choice that works disarmingly well, thanks to the terrific playing of the 19-piece band…A sleek, energizing mixture of Sinatra’s inimitable cool and Ms. Tharp’s kinetic heat, “Come Fly Away” sweeps you up in a spell so complete that only those resistant to the seductions of dance or the swing of Sinatra will be left on the other side of the velvet rope.

Elysa Gardner, U.S.A. Today It’s hard to imagine a Broadway show delivering a more dazzling combination of talent than Come Fly With Me (* * * out of four), the Frank Sinatra tribute …Sinatra’s vocals, taken from masters provided by his estate, are piped in over the orchestra.
But Ol’ Blue Eyes’ boundless expressivity actually makes him a tricky subject for this approach. In concert and in the studio, Sinatra was an instinctively interactive artist; he engaged the band and the listener, making us believe that songs were vital forms of communication rather than just vehicles for crooners. To hear that voice superimposed on music played more than a decade after his death, however faithfully to the original orchestrations, seems at odds with this whole sensibility.

Mike Kuchwara, Associated Press
Tharp’s lively dance extravaganza… may be short on plot but it makes up in motion what it lacks in story, ostensibly the tale of four couples as they go through various stages in often tempestuous relationships.

Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal: Twyla Tharp racked up a major disaster three seasons ago with “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” one of the lamest jukebox musicals ever to stagger onto Broadway. Not surprisingly, she’s playing it very, very safe this time around: “Come Fly Away” is a love-in-a-nightclub fantasy set to the ever-popular music of Frank Sinatra, whose recordings have previously accompanied three of Ms. Tharp’s ballets. The songs are familiar, the dancers are pretty, the set is fancy and the band is hot. All that’s missing from this recipe for success are a star and a few memorable onstage events…”Come Fly Away” amounts to an evening-long suite of vignettes that have little in common beyond their setting. In ballet, that can work; on Broadway, it’s risky in the extreme, and my guess is that most playgoers will find the results aimless.

Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: Frank Sinatra’s singing oozes effortless cool. Twyla Tharp’s dancing reeks of sweaty showmanship. Combined, it’s a pair of two left feet, and that’s a shaky foundation for the choreographer-director’s new Broadway brainchild, “Come Fly Away.”

John Simon, Bloomberg News: We are duly tickled, fascinated and stunned by what we see, but almost never moved, for excitement is not tantamount to beauty…Sinatra sings with posthumous ease, fine supporting dancers lend lively ensemble assistance and 100 minutes pleasingly “Fly Away.” Only that beckoning “Come” is a bit of a problem: Things never come quite as spontaneously as we expect in what may be Twyla’s twilight.

Jay Lustic, Star-Ledger: Sinatra spent his epic career channeling everything that life has to offer into three-minute songs. This show seeks to mirror his incredible range in dance. There is just a little dialogue, and no real story: just the music and the motion.
It’s all very enjoyable, though the familiarity of the material and the lack of a sense that the numbers are building toward something make it a less-than-revelatory piece of theater….“Come Fly Away” is set in a minimally sketched but clearly upscale nightclub — a class joint, as the Hoboken native himself might have called it .

Linda Winer, Newsday: …special it definitely is. “Come Fly Away,” Tharp’s dangerously gorgeous, wordless.”

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