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    3 Marias: Arthur Aviles, Donnell Oakley and Cindy Chung Camins in Fraulein Maria 2008
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    3 Marias: Arthur Aviles, Donnell Oakley and Cindy Chung Camins

    The Sound of Cracking Nuts

    Doug Elkins and Friends' Fraulein Maria
    reworks one icon and rivals another


    Take one epic icon. Reduce in size to fit onto and around the stage at Joe's Pub. Add all-star cast. Cook up blatantly amusing rework, presented in manageable portions, stirred gently and shaken violently. For Doug Elkins and friends, it all seems as easy as one, two, three. Or do, re, mi. Fraulein Maria is The Sound of Music filtered through a brilliantly twisted b-boy brain. This is the third year and incarnation of this lovely aberration, and there seems no reason to stop now; each night is probably a new version in itself, and the gene pool is spreading every year.

    Choreography by: Doug Elkins.
    Dancers: Friday, December 5, cast:
    Maria: Arthur Aviles, Donnell Oakley, Cindy Chung Camins
    Rolf: Archie Burnett
    Liesl: David Parker
    Mother Superior (main) and Baroness: Deborah Lohse
    Mother Superior (solo): Doug Elkins Clowns: Jennifer Miller and Michael Prescott
    Captain Von Trapp: Jeffry Kazin
    Children/Nuns/Goatherds/Salzburg-at-large: Carolyn Cryer, Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, Gui Christopher Greene, Lisa Niedermeyer, Alethea Pace, Hunt Parr, Jennifer Sydor, Allison Smith, Yin Yue
    Music by: Rogers and Hammerstein.
    Theater Direction: Barbara Karger and Michael Preston.

    Related links: dancenow
    Joe's Pub
    December 3-13, 2008

    Maria is a happy onslaught. Things go by so fast and furiously it's as if they're happening faster than the speed of perception; many little twists had already left the stage by the time they decoded themselves in my head. One twist is the three Marias. If one Maria was good, three must be that much better, and Julie Andrews' movie Maria was so hyperkinetic that it only makes sense to clone her into thirds onstage. Sense clearly has little to do with things here, though, and even trying to explain what goes by onstage seems unnecessarily literal. Let's just call them Maria Burly, Buffy and Boop: Arthur Aviles' Burly is more than comfortable throwing Captain Von Trapp over his shoulder; Donnell Oakley's Buffy is the too-perfect overachiever who puts all to shame; and Cindy Chung Camin's Boop is the mocking comic who sees nothing wrong with a cig break from the kids.They certainly all seem plausible parts of an impossibly perky failed nun.

    Marias with kids Carolyn Cryer (back) and Yin Yue in Fraulein Maria 2008  
    Photo by Steven Schreiber  
    Marias with kids Carolyn Cryer (back) and Yin Yue
    Aviles, Oakley and Chung are flatout great, but they're not alone. Liesl and Rolf's 16-17-18 duet will never be the same after seeing Archie Burnett play Rolf as a badass black voguer opposite David Parker's chunky, not-exactly-sixteen drag version of Liesl. Deborah Lohse is both Mother Superior and the Baroness, hilarious as either. And what is there to say about Doug Elkins' "Climb Every Mountain" solo that doesn't sound gushing and excessive? Just because most people wouldn't have the old and wise head nun dance a straightup b-boy solo in the body of Elkins doesn't mean it's not a perfect idea perfectly executed, somehow as deep and movingly emotional as the majestic singing of the movie Mother.

      In a better-than-average world, Fraulein Maria would become the anti-Nutcracker of the holiday season, a truly twisted staple some of us would look forward to every year the way many anticipate the Nutcracker.
    Above all, Fraulein Maria is a dance piece, and the version of the song Do-Re-Mi the "kids" dance is just one more hilarious and rich slice, each "note" being, of course, a movement phrase. The end result is some crazy danceclub showdown/contest. Throughout there are little bits of synchronicity between the music and the choreography that you'll miss if you blink, though this being a broad comedy, most clever bits are hammered home in case they were missed the first time. And there are plenty of tricks, stunts and feats of physical prowess, just like any good city street performance. B-boy is the movement base here, so anything goes.

    In a better-than-average world, Fraulein Maria would become the anti-Nutcracker of the holiday season, a truly twisted staple some of us would look forward to every year the way many anticipate the Nutcracker. Whether Maria could survive outside the stage of Joe's Pub and translate to a larger stage and audience or not, it does seem the perfect thing to add to Santa's list.

    DECEMBER 9, 2008

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