Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday night lights

I'm not obsessed with Dancing With the Stars. Nooooo. I just stay home, glued to ABC on Monday nights, that's all. That Tivo thingamajig? Please: I must be one of 274 people in New York without cable TV.

Tonight's installment was pretty exciting despite the fact that it featured two of my least favorite dances, the paso doble and the Viennese waltz. My main qualm is that there seemed to be a case of gradeinflationitis going around, with 10s being doled out like Goobers at a multiplex. The judges should keep a few things in mind, like (1) Mark Ballas keeps coming up with really conservative choreographies for Kristi Yamaguchi; I realize he's playing to her technical strength but it blandifies their routines. (2) Adam Carolla can only coast so long on gimmicks, even if the unicycle was amazingly over the top; he may drive partner Julianne to homicide before they get voted off though. (3) Marissa Jaret Winokur played a dancing queen on Broadway, fully deserving a Tony for make-believe illusion; alas, DTWS is nominally about dancing.

My favorite aspect of the show outside of Shannon Elizabeth's gams is musical director Harold Wheeler. It's just fantastic to hear a decent-size orchestra play dance music, and his contribution to DTWS is way underrated. My dream: to have Wheeler lead the DTWS band at Lincoln Center's Midnight Summer Swing. I don't think it's too much to ask.

Wheeler kick-started his career by working on Burt Bacharach's one and only musical, Promises, Promises, and has been an MD and/or orchestrator on such shows as Dreamgirls, Hairspray and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. (And Marlena Shaw's "Touch Me in the Morning"—now that's one song he should use on DWTS.) Not too shabby, uh? Tonight's Wheeler peak was his turning New Order's "Blue Monday" into a paso for the Ballaguchi. It worked surprisingly well once you got over the shock of hearing the song in this context.

No comments: