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Contact: The Musical

Created by: Susan Stroman and John Weidman

Developed by Susan Stroman and John Weidman for the Lincoln Center Theater, CONTACT: THE MUSICAL was originally planned as a traditional two-act musical. The more Stroman and Weidman talked about the content of the show, however, the more it seemed as though CONTACT needed to find its own form. The characters did not seem to want to sing, but they did want to dance. In the end, they settled on a musical extravaganza consisting of three thematically-linked short stories told mostly through dance.

The first story, "Swinging," has as its source an 18th century painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard set in a bucolic forest clearing, where a beautiful young woman soars on a swing while two men look on. In Stroman and Weidman's version, they are a servant and his master vying for the young lady's affection. The Rodgers & Hart song "My Heart Stood Still," as recorded by jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, provides the aural bed for this sexy romp in the French countryside.

Story #2: "Did You Move?" takes place in 1954 in Queens, New York, at an Italian restaurant. The heroine is a soft-spoken woman trapped in a loveless marriage, who tries to escape her verbally abusive husband through a series of romantic and comic fantasies. Imagining herself a prima ballerina, she dances with the headwaiter, the busboys and the restaurant's other customers to the grand melodies of Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Bizet.

The final story, "Contact," is set in present-day New York, and is the story of Michael Wiley, a wildly successful advertising guy in his 40s who is wildly suicidal about his personal life. He is mysteriously drawn to an after-hours club in Manhattan's meat-packing district, where he tries to engage a beautiful young woman in a yellow dress who keeps appearing and then disappearing into the crowd of sinuous couples swing-dancing to the music of Benny Goodman, The Beach Boys, Robert Palmer, Dion, and The Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Contact premiered at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre in September 1999, then moved to Broadway's Vivian Beaumont Theatre on March 30, 2000, with a cast that featured Boyd Gaines as "Michael Wiley," Karen Ziemba as "Wife," and Deborah Yates as "Girl in Yellow Dress." The play stirred up a hornets' nest of controversy by winning the 2000 Tony Award for Best Musical. The fact that the music for the dance play was entirely pre-recorded, and mostly from classical sources didn't sit well with either traditionalists or union musicians. Nevertheless, the show became an instant hit with critics and audiences alike.

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