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Thursday, 22 May 2014 11:16

Mason Street Warehouse Cranks up the Heat

Written by  Allison Parker
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Steam Heat
Mason Street Warehouse, Saugatuck
June 27-29, July 1-2, 4-6, 8-13; show times at 2, 7 & 8 p.m., (269) 857-2399

Summer is on its way, which means it’s only a matter of time before your steering wheel is scorching your fingers and your patio is barbequing your toes. The interior of your SUV won’t be the only thing too hot to handle this summer, however, with the sizzling premiere of Mason Street Warehouse’s Steam Heat. A tribute to legendary Broadway director and choreographer Bob Fosse, the production features hits from favorites like Chicago, Cabaret, Sweet Charity and more.

An ambitious project for a small theatre, Steam Heat blazes under the expert watch of its creator, director and choreographer Kurt Stamm. After serving as the artistic director of the Tony Award-winning Fosse, Stamm was eager to bring something similar to the regional theatre scene.

“The Broadway version [of Fosse] showcased [Fosse’s] work as a choreographer," Stamm said. "But you know, as I was going back and looking at the shows that he actually did work on, the musicals themselves were really quite spectacular. Not just his contributions to them, but a lot of musicals were really groundbreaking at the time. … So I thought, gosh, wouldn’t it be great to share a body of work from a musical standpoint as well and really showcase the shows and some of the songs from the shows..."

While Steam Heat may not be able to feature Fosse’s work on as grand a scale as Fosse did, it does nevertheless showcase the Broadway legend’s distinct choreographic style.

Ironically, Fosse created his ultra-sexy moves by drawing from his self-perceived physical shortcomings. The choreographer’s hair loss, short stature and lack of classic ballet training inspired a signature style typified by the presence of hats, hunched shoulders and jerky motions. Stamm believes this unusual and distinct movement will be a show highlight for audiences.

“From a style standpoint, Fosse’s style is incredibly unique and identifiable," Stamm said. "It’s also extremely difficult to execute. He sort of went against most of the laws of choreographic nature when it came to creating things—really destroying the body, making things extremely angular. … He invented a style that became so uniquely recognizable, and that’s what I think is gonna be cool and special."

Combine Fosse’s edgy dance moves with his musicals’ provocative themes, and the result is a scintillating, provocative experience for theatregoers.

“[Steam Heat] is going to feel so contemporary and so incredibly sexy," Stamm said. "I think the situations that [Fosse] dealt with and the themes that he dealt with are very, very timeless. They apply to what’s going on in the world today, they apply to what’s happening in our relationships and our lives, to situations that we are dealing with, and also so much of it is just amazing entertainment, too."


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