Girls! Girls! Girls
nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
June 14, 2006
In keeping with the tongue-in-cheek tone of the Sellout Festival, Jennifer Schmermund has designed—in her own words—bad choreography to a series of vignettes in which five woman depict sex, humiliation, subservience, and crudity. The piece, called Girls! Girls! Girls!, puts dance numbers to a wide range of music by Puccini, the Beastie Boys, Sam Cooke, Duke Ellington, Les Brown, Count Basie, and many others. The question is why, with talent to spare, the choreography is reduced to B-movie quality. It is an easy slide given the theme of the festival, but what professional would want to display her talent at less than its best?
In the opening sequence, Holly Colino, Chloe Douglas, Danielle Kwozko, Alexa Weir, and Schmermund dance to a Puccini opera. They show grace, agility, and then whimsy. The first time they slap their rear ends it is comical. By the third time, it has not only lost its humor but feels sophomoric. Repetition is often funny, but with humor, timing is everything and it is as important to know when to stop as it is to understand how far to go before losing an audience.
The dancing in the vignettes varies—classical ballet, modern, tap—along with the mix in music, sometimes to humorous effect, such as a slow tap dance to a big band beat. Other sequences include a woman in office attire who strips while pole dancing, girls with feathers dreaming of roles in Busby Berkeley extravaganzas, a bicycle rider festooned as a bear, one where nothing at all happens, and more.
The title promises a lot and then … delivers too much. Less would have been more—fewer vignettes and simple leotards, with a prop or two, a throughline holding the sequences together, and a showcase of fine dance. Instead, Girls! Girls! Girls! is not strong enough to be offensive, sexual enough to be embarrassing, or good enough to really recommend. I suspect that Schmermund intends to demonstrate in this show the many ways that women sell out. But, she's sold herself short, which is too bad, because the talent is certainly there.