With Frank Sinatra music and Twyla Tharp choreography, Come Fly Away is the essence of cool. The musical was conceived and directed by the legendary Tharp, and features vocals by Ol’ Blue Eyes via classic recordings played along with a live Vegas-style band.
The show, described as a soaring musical fantasy of romance and seduction, will have its Los Angeles premiere, playing Oct. 25 to Nov. 6, at the Pantages Theatre. And one of the exciting lead dancers, Cody Green chatted with me about what makes it so ultra-cool.
The show follows four couples who meet in a nightclub. They fall in and out of love during one ring-a-ding night. Green explains, “You get to see their relationships unfold on stage. You have these amazing Frank Sinatra songs telling their story. And Twyla Tharp’s choreography offers the best partner dancing that you’ll ever see. It’s very special to dance for Tharp. She tailors her choreography to her dancers, and it just fits your body. To be directed by her brings out the best in you.”
The music of Sinatra is special too. A live band with signature arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May, and Quincy Jones, provides backup for the pristine recordings that make it sound like the Chairman of the Board is in the house. “Fly Me to the Moon,” “One for My Baby,” “My Way,” and “That’s Life” are featured among the parade of classic songs. “The band is unbelievably exciting with a fantastic horn section and everybody making each night a unique experience. It’s genius,” Green says.
Green himself is a pretty cool fellow, having played Riff in West Side Story in the recent Broadway revival. He was also the big winner of Bravo’s Step It up & Dance competition series. Among the Canadian’s other cool credits are the Sinatra Dance with Me show, playing the Wynn Las Vegas, the Beatles music movie Across the Universe, and going to Juilliard. Also he’s danced for Tharp before in the awesome show Movin’ Out.
It’s no surprise that Gene Kelly is a role model for Green as a dancer, “because of his comfortable, easy moves.” Green’s dance style is actually reminiscent of an athletic young Kelly.
Twyla Tharp’s creative relationship with the music of Frank Sinatra began in 1976 with Once More Frank, a dance created for the American Ballet Theatre, performed by Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov. More Sinatra music dance numbers followed over the years. And Green says the essence of cool continues at the Pantages with the innovative musical Come Fly Away.
An Oscar-Worthy Cinema Series
Continuing his great tradition of presenting award-winning films, Pete Hammond is back hosting the KCET NoHo Cinema Series. The screenings are at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre, every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. from Oct. 25 to Dec. 13. And kudos to City National Bank stepping in as the presenting sponsor. Among the lineup of films are The Artist (an award winner at the Cannes Film Fest) on Oct. 25; The Descendants starring George Clooney; Albert Nobbs starring Glenn Close; and My Week with Marilyn from the Weinstein Company.
It’s the kind of showcase that creates the Oscar buzz because the filmmakers and stars show up to chat with Hammond after the screening, and they take questions from the audience. After last fall’s showing of The King’s Speech, Hammond predicted that it would win the Academy Award for Best Film. And director Tom Hooper actually gave the essence of his Oscar acceptance speech to the KCET supporters two months before the awards. The Cinema Series is something very special and it raises funds for KCET’s great programming. Check it out by going to kcet.org.
What else is going on at the local community-friendly network? Well, KCET is presenting the Beginnings of the Space Age, the story of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They’re having a special Accenture sponsored premiere at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, with special guests JPL’s Blaine Baggett, the producer, writer, and director of the magnificent shows, plus space pioneer Tom Gavin.
The three-part documentary series debuts on KCET with The American Rocketeer episode on Nov. 3, followed by Explorer One on Nov. 10, and Destination Moon on Nov. 17. Thanks to Al Jerome, KCET president and CEO, for showcasing a tribute to the rocket scientists that gave us the space age, as well as bringing good jobs to our local community. Wouldn’t it be nice to see those days again?