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SCT actors share dances, emotions in newest play

November 4, 2012

Lyle Tate and Marsha Williams get caught up in their rendition of the tango for Starkville Community Theater's newest production, "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks." The show premieres Thursday at 7:30 p.m. For more information on tickets, call the SCT box office at 662-323-6855.
Members of the cast and crew for "Six Dances Lessons in Six Weeks" gather for a photo on set. Pictured are Janis Ross, Lyle Tate, Marsha Williams and M.J. Etua. (Photo by Matt Crane, SDN)

Starkville Community Theatre continues its season with the premiere of “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Directed by M.J. Etua, “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” was written by Richard Alfieri and stars veteran SCT actors Lyle Tate and Marsha Williams.

The play tells the story of a Florida retiree, Lily Harrison, who hires a dance instructor, Michael Minetti. The two navigate through a touching, sometimes antagonistic, relationship.

Etua said she is drawn to the art of dance and is pleased with the works her actors have put forth during the rehearsal process.

“I love dance, so it’s been really cool to watch the dancing process, and my actors are wonderful,” she said. “They are two actors that I’ve worked with before who I trust completely. We’ve had a lot of fun bringing these characters to life.”

Etua said the relationship between both characters will resonate with audiences who will enjoy the play’s story.

“It’s a very sensitive story about two people from very different backgrounds coming together through dance,” she said. “The really neat thing to see is how both of them have very strong personalities and each have to give up a little bit of themselves in order to develop this really great friendship.”

While the show only features two characters, Tate said the story allows for many enjoyable and moving moments.

“There’s a lot going on,” he said. “There’s lots of laughs and some shocking and surprising times that we’re going to grab your heart. These are very real people.”

Williams said while the show deals with some mature subjects, she enjoys her character’s zest for life and the honest portrayal of two seemingly different people.

“I like Lily because she has a lot of enthusiasm for life and energy and she doesn’t want to just give up and not do anything,” she said. “It’s an honest relationship between two people who develop a very caring friendship over the course of 10 weeks.”

Tate said he has appreciated the opportunity to portray Minetti, a character who bears many emotional scars.

“His defense mechanism is very in-your-face humor and Lily knocks that out of the way really quickly and he has to be honest with himself,” he said. “He’s extremely real, and I think it’s interesting to play a character who is gay but who has had a very different experience being gay than I ever had. I get to live through him and be more appreciative of who I am and my experience.”

Throughout their relationship, Tate and Williams go through six different dances including the swing, tango, waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha and contemporary dance.

Etua said she is pleased with the dancing ability of her actors and the talent of Janis Ross, the assistant director, who choreographed each dance.

“I think the audience will be able to see her talent as a choreographer and her talent as a dancer,” she said. “I’ve added a little bit of a treat that I hope the audience will enjoy, and we’ll have a little more dancing that the script asks for.”

Etua said she believes the audience will enjoy the story of these two characters and the touching relationship that develops.

“People are going to be able to see a little bit of themselves in each character because each one talks about life and love and the experiences that shape them,” she said. “I’m just excited about the whole show, but right now we really need an audience. We’ve gotten to the point in the rehearsal process where we are so ready for an audience.”

“Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” runs Thursday thru Sunday and Nov. 13-17 at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee performance at 2 p.m. The show is sponsored by Lynn Phillips-Gaines and Phillips Financial.
For more information, call the SCT box office at 662-323-6855.

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