The story of The Belmont Hotel is fairly simple. Losing money due to the Great Depression, hotel owner Frank (a light on his feet Jeff Quast) decides to go into business with a bootlegger (a smooth and seductive Patrick Jeffrey), introduced to him by the nanny (an appealing Renee Guittar). The money starts rolling in, but his wife (director/choreographer Regina Peluso) and daughter Lily (the precocious Dora Dolphin) are not happy with the change. A crisis neatly leads to a change of heart, the family is reunited, and everyone's happy again. Let's dance!
|Dora Dolphin, Regina Peluso, and Jeff Quast
as the (sometimes not so) happy family
The soundtrack to the story is a selection of jazz standards like "Stormy Weather" and "Mack the Knife (with a little Beyonce and Beatles thrown in for good measure), performed by the band with vocals on some songs. Katie Gearty has a dusky voice that's perfect for these songs, and Cameron Wright has impressive vocals, most evident in an a capella unmiked version of "It Don't Mean a Thing" that fills the cavernous space of the Southern Theater stage. I'm not sure there is a better stage for dance in the Twin Cities than the Southern, with its wide open stage, gorgeous brick arch backdrop, and excellent sightlines from the audience. Costumes are period appropriate (with the exception of an inexplicable untucked plaid shirt and khaki pants ensemble) and still allow the dancers to move freely and beautifully.
This is a short run so act quickly if you want to catch this production of the new original jazz dance musical The Belmont Hotel - only four more performances remain this weekend (discount tickets available on Goldstar.com). Recommended for dance aficionados and novices alike. COLLIDE's next production is Romeo and Juliet next spring. I cannot imagine Romeo and Juliet as a jazz dance musical, but I trust this company to make it work!
*Her bio notes that Dora will be in Gypsy at BCT next spring. From what I've seen of her, she will be a perfect Baby June!