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    The Orchid Show

    Orchid, don't stop!

    Neta Pulvermacher's vibrant "Orchid Show" brings this reviewer into the Orchid fold.


    I spent the subway ride on the way to Neta Pulvermacher's The Orchid Show (at the Flea through February 22nd) trying to recall everything I knew about orchids. In truth, the only information I had on the flower was from the movie Adaptation. (For the record, program notes indicate that The Orchid Show was created in 2000- 2001 before the release of the movie.)

    Company: The Neta Dance Company.
    Choreography by: Neta Pulvermacher.
    Dancers: Jeremy Laverdure, Jason Marchant, Isadora Wolfe, Brittany Reese, Tami Stronach, and Tracy Dickson.
    Music by: J.L. Dussek, XTC, Roy Nathanson, Eric Satie, Ennio Morricone, Cole Porter, John Zorn, Gary Sredzienski, The Big Bang, and Astrud Gilberto.
    Costumes by: Maile Okamura and Melissa Schlachtmeyer.
    Lighting Design: Benjamin C. Tevelow

    Related links: Official site
    The Flea Theater
    41 White Street (btw Broadway & Church)
    Jan. 30 - Feb. 22, 2004

    I wasn't an orchid expert before the show, but after instruction from The Orchid Show's outrageous Jill St. John (a dolled- up Jeremy Laverdure lip- synching to a voiceover by Tami Stronach), I would consider myself extremely knowledgeable on the subject. The show is packed full of facts and figures on this exotic flower. For example, there are more than 40,000 different species of orchids in the world; bucket orchids swallow bees as part of their fertilization process; and Phaleanopsis (one orchid species) is pronounced fal-en-OPP-siss.

    Neta Pulvermacher's orchids are dressed in pink and yellow vinyl and green fur. They are exceptionally quirky — wiggling, twitching, posing, occasionally spanking eachother, giving a thumbs-up, and frequently bursting into song. These bursts of energy are coupled with periods of extreme sleepiness. But not to worry, the "orchs" will soon be back playing toy-instruments, dancing with mini disco balls, or showing the audience how to make Fox Tail Orchid Ice Cream. (This is a real product. There was some on display in the lobby.)

    The Orchid Show  
    In the second half of the program, Jill in Brazil, our fearless leader takes us on an expedtition through the Amazonian rainforest. The orchids make sure we understand the danger of this mission through a rousing musical theatre number. (In short, a long time ago, 3 men went on a similar orchid hunting venture, but only the man named Paxton survived. The other two were never heard from again.) Jill battles alligators, towering mountains, tiny caves, swamp creatures, hallucinations, and fan mail before returning us safely to the theater.

      Jill battles alligators, towering mountains, tiny caves, swamp creatures, hallucinations, and fan mail before returning us safely to the theater.
    I had so much fun watching The Orchid Show. While that may not be good dance critic speak, I feel that it's the best thing I can say about this event. There are polka dots everywhere — in the lobby, on stage, and in the audience. The performance space at The Flea has an odd collection of doors, windows, and nooks through which the dancers exit and enter with some frequency. Unexpected heads pop in and out throughout the evening. A small wall separates the audience from the performance, but this does not contain the show in any way. The lost "orch" Eria was tossed over the wall almost into my lap, as were a bevy of monarch butterflies. The lighting design by Benjamin C. Tevelow intensifies the hyper-fun atmosphere through the exclusive use of hot pink, yellow, orange, and green.

    My only complaint is that I wanted the show to be longer. I hope to have a chance to go again before the end of its month long run. As Jill St. John declares at the beginning of the show, "Once you're on orchids you're finished. You never get off orchids, dear."

    FEBRUARY 5, 2004

    Reader comments on The Orchid Show:

  • [no subject]   from Pamela Shannon, Feb 6, 2004

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