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REVIEW: Private Dancer

privateDancer_skint“Private Dancer” is a┬ávanity production by Sage Snakechalmer as Rita Hayworth at the Lion Theater, Theater Row, NYC.

“Private” being the operative word here, as such acts of narcissism and masturbation are normally kept far from public view. Her bio says she began studying acting in 2005. Miss Snakechalmer needs to get a lawyer. Clearly, she has been robbed blind.

Ms. Snakechalmer has not yet learned the basics of acting, like listening when you are on the phone… not merely pausing. Like establishing a relationship with either your audience or the other characters you are speaking to or about.

This woman could not even say her own name and make me believe it.

Most of the audience sat in stunned silence through this 75 minute, self-indulgent, dual-media performance. Scenes with her bellowing into a mirror, or dancing the Dance of the Seven Veils in a costume whose clasps she has not quite mastered, were particularly painful and uncomfortably long. For the record, I only counted three veils.

Some scenes were filmed previously with terrible sound and an excruciatingly overblown soundtrack. These only served to demonstrate that Sage Snakechalmer has even less screen presence than stage presence.

The dapper gentleman in the seat beside me had his head bowed, covering his face with his hand, a look of incredulous dismay apparent. 28 minutes in, he began checking the time on his phone every three minutes.

A man at the rear of the theatre, possibly the director, held a bouquet of flowers. The last time I checked, he looked like he was ready to eat them.

I try to be a respectful theater-goer.

I have certainly done my share of bad theater for the wrong reasons. But this was beyond all reason.

Ms. Snakechalmer lost her grandfather to Alzheimer’s and I myself am in the process of losing someone already lost to this dreadful disease. Even so, the production almost made me wish I had Alzheimer’s, so I could forget this night ever happened. It is admirable that profits will go to Alzheimer research but sadly, I doubt there will be many profits from this production.

When the aforementioned dapper man turned to me as the lights came up, he didn’t need to ask how anyone felt, as the look of pain was evident on every face around us. As we had been chatting affably before the show, he did so anyway, and said, “This is a P.O.S. production. Do you know what that means?” I did.

It was a piece that begged to be heckled and I think the audience showed amazing restraint. Upon leaving the theater, I heard another patron say, “No wonder Orson Welles left her.”

Ms. Snakechalmer is a devoted follower of the Sanford Meisner technique of theater. One of his famous exercises is the repeating game, where two actors stare at each other repeating the same line over and over until it takes on a life and meaning of its own. Every actor has explored this. Ms. Snakechalmer subjected us to this exercise endlessly in numerous scenes. In one scene where she repeatedly says, “Who am I?,” I heard the lady behind me mutter, “Not an actress,” while another grumbled, “If you don’t know, get off the stage!”

Rita Hayworth was talented and tortured, her beauty captured forever on screen in GILDA, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI and countless others. Watch her and revere her.

Rita Hayworth also suffered for years from the effects of alcohol and Alzheimer’s. Thankfully, this audience only suffered for 75 minutes.

Please give generously to Alzheimer’s research. It is a devastating disease that destroys families along with the afflicted. But please go DIRECTLY to the source. Do NOT pass GO. Do not contribute via this production of “Private Dancer.” Save yourself!

3 Responses
  • Adam
    December 7, 2013

    I bow down to your ferocity and awesomeness. Really, it’s a PSA, isn’t it?

  • deirdre
    December 9, 2013

    Ever the entertaining reviewer Ms. Everson. I guess she was one snake charmer who should have kept the lid on the basket……….HISSsssssss.

  • Julia
    January 29, 2014

    I read this at 3am last night and laughed so hard I nearly woke up Kevin. This morning I read it aloud to Gail. We are so sad it’s ended its run! I searched for more reviews and apparently you (and your fellow theater-goers) are not alone.

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