Audience members at Verb Ballet’s cabaret-style performance at the Akron Civic Theatre today will see a piece of Great Lakes history come to life with the world premiere of Associate Director Richard Dickinson’s ballet SS Edmund Fitzgerald, inspired by the final voyage of the iron ore carrier in 1975.
It features eight dancers in four movements depicting the embarkment in Superior, Wis., the ship getting caught in gale force winds, the mysterious shipwreck on a shoal in Lake Superior and a scene of town folks grieving.
The haunting piece, part of the evening’s program called ‘‘The Elements,’’ is set to an original piano concerto by Geoffrey Peterson.
“I’ve incorporated a huge piece of material that’s supposed to be symbolic of the waves,’’ said Dickinson, whose dancers use an Asian dance technique to billow the fabric.
Twenty-nine crew members died in the historic tragedy, depicted by dancers rolling around in the fabric. Of the crew, 14 were from Ohio, including North Olmsted, Bay Village, Ashtabula, Lakewood and Richmond Heights. Their ship had been heading for Detroit.
In contrast to this sad dance, Dickinson also will present the world premiere of his fun-loving Cowboy Soul, inspired by his upbringing in Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Valinda, Calif. The dance is set to instrumental versions of cowboy songs, including Home on the Range, Polly Wolly Doodle All the Day and Happy Trails.
The women dance en pointe in this work that includes square dancing, a bar fight and a shootout.
Rounding out the evening will be a revival of Heinz Poll’s pas de deux from his 1981 Wings and Aires, set to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. Finally, the company will perform Vox Balaenae, rooted in contemporary dance and created by Sara Whale, a resident teacher with the troupe. The dance is set to George Crumb’s composition of the same name, meant to evoke the sounds of whales and oceanic imagery.
The 8 p.m. program will be performed cabaret-style, with 110 guests maximum sitting on the Civic Theatre stage up close to the dancers. Cost is $25, or $5 for students. Call 330-253-2488 or see www.akroncivic.com for tickets.
Strongsville native Corey Mach, a 2010 graduate of Baldwin Wallace College, co-stars in the national tour of the ever-sexy Flashdance with Cincinnati native Sydney Morton. The tour, which promises to have electrifying dance, will land at PlayhouseSquare’s Palace Theatre in Cleveland on Tuesday through April 13.
Mach, 26, who has been on the tour since September, is the second actor ever to play steel mill boss Nick in the U.S. tour. The show, which originated in London, was revamped with plot changes and new music for the American tour that began in January 2013.
The launch of the U.S. tour coincided with the 30th anniversary of the steamy Flashdance movie — starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri — that became a pop culture phenomenon. Actor/singer Mach, who was born four years after the movie came out, said he still hasn’t seen it.
“I didn’t want to see the movie and have any preconceived notions based on what I saw,’’ he said. “It was a great opportunity for me as an actor to create something my own without the huge influence of someone telling me how it should be done.’’
In the musical, the relationship between Alex and Nick is better developed than in the movie, Mach said. He’s now in his mid 20s — rather than mid 30s — to her 19.
Hit movie tunes Flashdance — What a Feeling, Maniac, Gloria, Manhunt and I Love Rock & Roll are in the show, along with 16 new songs written by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary. Mach, who said his role is not a dancing role, sings only the new tunes.
The story, set in Pittsburgh, follows welder Alex’s dreams of becoming a professional dancer as well as her blossoming romance with her boss. In the revamped story, Mach’s character must choose between following his family’s mandate about laying off steel mill workers or doing what he believes is right.
Mach has appeared in national tours of Wicked and Rent as well as on Broadway in Hands on a Hardbody and Godspell. To see him in Flashdance, see www.playhousesquare.org or call 216-241-6000. Tickets are $10-$90. PlayhouseSquare season
Cleveland’s Playhouse- Square announced its 2014-2015 KeyBank Broadway Series on Tuesday. The season includes:
Motown The Musical — Oct. 3-19. The story of Berry Gordy and the label that launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more.
Newsies — Nov. 4-16. Based on the Disney film about newsboys on strike in 1899 New York.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas — Dec. 2-14. The classic holiday movie comes to the stage.
Pippin — Feb. 3-15. A revival of the musical by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked), with breathtaking acrobatics.
Dirty Dancing — March 3-22. A stage adaptation of the Patrick Swayze-Jennifer Grey movie.
Kinky Boots — April 7-19, 2015. The story of a struggling shoe factory owner and an entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, with a score by Cyndi Lauper.
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella — July 21-Aug. 2, 2015. The fairy tale comes to life with the pumpkin, glass slipper, masked ball and more.
Season tickets are now available by calling 216-640-8800 or at www.PlayhouseSquare.org/broadway. Season packages range from $70-$610. Tickets to individual shows will go on sale at a later date.
Other arts news
• Groundworks Dance Theater will offer the Akron premiere of guest choreographer Rosie Herrera’s House Broken at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Her new dance provides commentary on the middle-class lifestyle and elusive pursuit of the American dream. The piece contains some content not suitable for children.
Herrera, who specializes in dance theater, created movement phrases for the new dance based on expressions inspired by overblown characters from Hispanic soap operas.
Saturday’s program also will include Artistic Associate Amy Miller’s For the Life of Me and Artistic Director David Shimotakahara’s Luna. Cost is $20-$25 or $10 for students. Call 216-751-0088 for more information.
• Final performances of Medina County Show Biz Co.’s The Importance of Being Earnest will be 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Haddad Theater, 144 N. Broadway St., Medina. The cast, directed by JT Buck and featuring funny man Patrick Dukeman doing a turn in drag as Lady Bracknell, also includes Amanda Davis, Andrew Deike, Adam Vigneault, Katie O’Connor, Chuck Cover, Diann Gorsuch and Brett Aguiar. Cost is $10. See www.medinashowbiz.org or call 330-722-5776.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.