San Diego State’s Master of Fine Arts program in musical theatre has a reputation for producing little known but interesting musicals and finding in them what’s interesting to contemporary audiences. The current production, Pal Joey, fits into that pattern but achieves mixed results…

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Elle was an example of talented artists trying to be subversive, rejecting the basic rules of theatrical pacing, simply hell bent on using the slowest aspects of butoh and little else to convey a dark narrative inside a strip club. An opportunity wasted, and a big waste of talent.

The program could have been more successful as a complete and sleazy variety show, or a dark comedy. Imagine Dan Aykroyd’s character, Leonard Pinth Garnell, and how he introduced the “Bad Ballet” parody on Saturday Night Live. This was very bad butoh ballet indeed. Elle was best viewed as a parody, extreme yet simpleton in every way.

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