Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Seeing SPANDEX: My Body Is a Temple

Last year, writer Daniel F. Levin was kind enough to write a guest post for Emerging Musical Theatre about his new show, Spandex, a fun, energetic send-up to fitness and aerobics centering around the 1987 Crystal Light National Aerobic Competition, hosted by Alan Thicke. Since he was kind enough to share the behind-the-scenes journey the show had taken after a major industry reading, I'm happy to report that Spandex (with book and lyrics by Daniel, book also by Annie Grunow, and music by Julian Blackmore) is currently enjoying its first production Off-Broadway at the 777 Theater here in the city.

Telling the story of a housewife and an ex-gymnast who both find redemption in the uplifting exercise of aerobics, Spandex is both campy fun and a genuinely intriguing piece about community and personal growth/fitness. I had the pleasure of seeing the show on Sunday night, and what I found most fascinating about the show was realizing what a game changer aerobics was for women in America. While we now tend to dismiss aerobics as Richard Simmons-esque stuff, we forget how revolutionary the idea was that women could find an outlet to workout in the comfort of their own homes through tapes, or within a small social group at the gym. This definitely made the show more than just an opportunity to break out the moves-- it gave those moves purpose and said a lot about the female characters who are struggling to find strength within themselves.

I also have to note that the score is pretty awesome, and there are a few songs that I've had running in my head since seeing the show (big props to composer Julian Blackmore). 80s pop/rock tends to produce a lot of earworms, and this show is no exception. There are some wonderful ballads throughout, and I have to admit I got a lot of guilty pleasure out of a particularly lavish, testosterone-filled number complete with rifles that is referenced in the title of this post.

It's really exciting to see new writers hustling and bringing their work to the stage. If you're in the mood for a high-energy romantic comedy infused with aerobic dance (because... why not), Spandex is lots of fun. Congrats to Daniel and the team! (Get your tickets here)

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