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    2018-2019 reviews:


    R-L: Jasmin Simmons, Amadi Washington, Mary Kate Hartung, Jonathan Matthews, Madeline Irmen, with ChristinaNoel Reaves and Cameron Mizell visible on raised stage in ChristinaNoel and the Creature: Belly
    Photo by Michelle Zassenhaus
    R-L: Jasmin Simmons, Amadi Washington, Mary Kate Hartung, Jonathan Matthews, Madeline Irmen, with ChristinaNoel Reaves and Cameron Mizell visible on raised stage

    Belly Up to the Table, Now

    ChristinaNoel and the Creature tackle issues and each other at The Clemente


    ChristinaNoel and the Creature have got a problem by the Belly, and they're not letting go. Vampires were the lure that the television series True Blood used to talk about good versus evil and group versus group in the American South and everywhere. Song and dance are the lure that Belly uses to whittle down our seemingly unkillable issues with race and groupism in America. As weapons, words and movement have a tough time competing with silver and stakes through the heart, but reality is rarely as fun as fantasy.

    Choreography by: ChristinaNoel Reaves.
    Dancers: Jasmin Simmons, Amadi Washington, Mary Kate Hartung, Jonathan Matthews, Madeline Irmen,
    with ChristinaNoel Reaves, Aeric Meredith-Goujon and Cameron Mizell performing live music
    Music by: Aeric Meredith=Goujon, Cameron Mizell and ChristinaNoel Reaves.
    Set design by: Aeric Meredith-Goujon.
    Lighting design by: Adam Greene.
    Production stage manager: Joanna Futral.
    Ephyras manager: Stacie Brensilver-Berman.
    Development director: Jasmine Davey.
    Graphic design: Casey Loomis.
    Flamboyan Theater at The Clemente
    May 26-27, 2016

    There is far more going on in Belly — and the Creature — than Black and White, of course, just as there was in True Blood. Each individual in the Creature has people problems and People problems. Lowercase problems are finding love and deciding if you like the person across the table from you at work or school, or in the mirror. Uppercase problems are having your appearance or identity cut off huge swaths of interpersonal possibility. Both are real, and both are addressable, and the Creature is here to help.

    The Creature is five famous people who are not yet famous because fame is fickle. Jasmin Simmons, Amadi Washington, Mary Kate Hartung, Madeline Irmen and Jonathan Matthews get my vote, though. Each is a full-bodied performer with a voice, and ChristinaNoel Reaves makes sure they use every bit of their body and voice.

    Each has a place at the table, literally — at the table onstage that moves around as needed — and metaphorically.

    talking at the table in ChristinaNoel and the Creature: Belly
    Photo by Michelle Zassenhaus
    talking at the table

    Simmons and Hartung make excellent antagonists, as queens of different realms. Their pattycake handgame toward the end is a lot of fun by itself, and covers a lot of the ground Belly covers, in one place. Washington and Matthews have a crazy, tumbling duet while Matthews sings a show tune of love at the top of his lungs and clings to and tackles Washington, who maintains his stoic cool Black Man facade throughout. And Irmen has a poignant solo about her huge feelings and broken heart that even the perfect people among us can relate to.

    A huge group of kids, The Ephyras, opens the evening with a joyful performance. The effect is like watching a children's version of The Creature, where each kid celebrates their identity but hasn't — won't? — become hung on it. They won't win a dance competition — thank goodness, but they win our hearts and remind us what dance can be good for.

    And Reaves (vocal sounds), Aeric Meredith-Goujon (visual director/composer) and Cameron Mizell (guitar)provide live music for both sets of dancers, in a dynamic, shifting soundscape of rhythm and abstractions,

    The refrain — motto, really — that has The Creature dancing in synch to end the evening is the roll-up-our-sleeves "Do this shit." The words are ugly, but the intention is beautiful.

    JUNE 1, 2016

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