PARSIPPANY — An improbable friendship and a few dance lessons are the heart of the latest production of the Women’s Theater Company of Parsippany. Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, a warm comedy written by Richard Alfieri, runs weekends at the intimate playhouse from September 26 through October 12.
The performances of Joe Elefante and Annette Winter deftly weave the complex relationship between a caustic gay dance instructor and an elderly widow of a Baptist minister. Elefante plays Michael Minetti, who is hired to give weekly dance lessons in the home of Lily Harrison, portrayed by Winter. The two characters begin as combative strangers who grow to understand and accept one another.
Under the precise direction of Barbara Krajkowski, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks subtly unfolds before the audience, one dance at a time. Krajkowski directs with a masterful touch, crafting sublimely real characters rather than caricatures, which would be an easy trap with such broadly defined roles.
Set in St. Petersburg, Florida, the story progresses through six dance styles, from old-time swing to contemporary 60s dance. In truth, the dance lessons serve as the back drop to the real lessons, that of learning about one another. The weekly revelations of themselves break down the myths they hold of the other. As the prejudice fades, the love grows.
At the center of each scene is a dance, naturally. Amid the conflict and compassion that defines their friendship, the two dance. All strife, all wariness drops away as they swing, tango, waltz and foxtrot. When Michael explains,” the origin of all dancing is…a socially acceptable way of feeling, smelling, attracting the beloved,” Lily’s walls come down.
Both Elefante and Winter are natural dancers, demonstrating great versatility with all the dance styles. They are helped by the creative choice of music. “Young at Heart” foreshadows Lily’s journey from an elderly soul to a youthful spirit. “The Best is Yet to Come” encourages the younger Michael to be more optimistic about his future. And the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows Where I’d Be Without You” stands as the closing anthem to this extraordinary friendship.
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a vibrant, moving, funny production. Go see it!
The Women’s Theater Company is located at the Parsippany Playhouse at 1130 Knoll Road, Lake Hiawatha. (Note: For GPS driving directions, please enter the town of Boonton, 07005.)
To purchase tickets online please visit www.womenstheater.org or call (973) 316-3033.