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Movin' Out

The musical Movin' Out is all about Twyla Tharp's dances. It takes its title from the famous Billy Joel song, and in fact the whole score is by him. People of a certain age will know most of these songs by heart. It's to the cast's credit that you almost forget that it's not Joel singing, but another guy doing his damndest to sound like him. But since we've grown up hearing these songs sung by the man who sings them better than anybody, it's for the choreography that you should go to Movin' Out.

And indeed, the dances are a real trip. So energetic, clever, and brilliantly conceived are they, that it scarcely matters that they're set to Billy Joel's songs. As my brother observed, you could have done these dances to anybody's songs. It really doesn't matter. Tharp developed a slender plot knitting her dances together, which the ensemble cast play out in mime. It involves three pairs of couples who meet in high school, break up when the boys go off to the Vietnam war, and reconnect afterwards. This doesn't matter either. Often the Joel songs go with the story; sometimes, they don't seem to. Movin' Out is all about the dances, which are riveting.

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