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Saturday, October 21, 2006

They Times Really Are A Changin'

I thoroughly enjoyed Twyla Tharp's treatment of Billy Joel's catalogue of music in "Movin' Out" where Brenda and Eddie became three-dimensional characters against the backdrop of the relics of my own hometown. It cannot be easy to develop characters with no dialogue whatsoever, but Twyla's vision becamse very clear and made "Movin' Out" a huge, award-winning hit. It was with great curiosity that I approached "The Times, They Are A Changin'", her interpretation of Bob Dylan's songs, but she definitely does not disappoint. The story revolves around a broken-down traveling circus run by a tyrant of a father and along with his son and a beautiful runaway girl, these three tell their sad and sordid story through the songs of Bob Dylan's which includes "Blowin' in the Wind", "Highway 61", "Lay Lady Lay" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" just to name a few that you would automatically recognize. However, in order to tell the story as accurately as possible, Twyla also relies on some lesser known songs from Dylan as well and the three primary characters sing these songs with such feeling that one really believes that they were written just to tell this tale. The ensemble includes a dancing dog, clowns and other strange freakish characters whom are capable of contorting themselves in ways not humanly possible. It is no wonder that Bob himself has been heard to comment that he believes that this might be the best interpretation of his songs he has ever seen or heard. What else sets this stage presentation apart from other shows on Broadway is that it is rather short (only about 90 minutes or so) and there is no intermission whatsoever, but it is 90 minutes well spent under the spell of Twyla's vision and Bob Dylan's story telling.


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