When a festival that only takes place every two years was scheduled to begin at the peak of a pandemic, you don’t just throw it all away.
Neil Simon is one of the most prolific and enduring American playwrights, beloved for his nostalgia, humor and witty one-liners, even winning a Pulitzer in 1991 for “Lost in Yonkers,” arguably his finest work. Farmers Alley Theatre chose that finest work as their first foray in Neil Simon material, and it’s a wonder to behold.
In an unpublished chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, candy magnate Willy Wonka leads a group of wide-eyed children into the alarmingly named Pounding and Cutting Room. There, a machine slices fudge into small squares. A wire strainer serves to catch any children who might slip, preventing them from being similarly chopped up. “It always catches them,” he reassures the children. “At least it always has up to now.”
Jumpstart 2020 is an eclectic showcase of world premiere dances created and danced entirely by Grand Rapids Ballet dancers. It offers an eclectic mix of themes, moods, and styles, and the show is a hit among the company’s fans, judging by the spontaneous standing ovations opening night after several of the 10 pieces in this two-hour show.
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