(Uptown Players, 2012)
- *Named one of the Top Ten Theatre Productions of 2012 by The Examiner
The Dallas Morning News:
“Hello Again gives powerful witness to the power of the erotic. Uptown Players opened the area premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s 1994 musical on Saturday. It’s a superb production, but it may be talked about more for its frequent nudity and sexual situations than for the fine singing and acting.
John de los Santos has choreographed many musicals and launched a national career as an opera director. He combines both functions in Hello Again, his Uptown debut as a director. He manages the many transitions imaginatively and has obtained strong performances from his actors.
At first it seems that he’s going to use dance as the primary erotic metaphor in Hello Again. The beginning of Leonard and Campione’s meeting in the initial scene includes some delicately sexy lifts. Then the pants (and underpants) begin to come down, the shirts and bras come off, and little or nothing is left to the imagination in all those sexual encounters. Toning it all down would probably undercut the basic premise”
“Endings can be tricky. Sometimes a successful narrative is ruined by an ending that betrays what came before it; or the tone could be muddled by a left-field directorial decision; or too often it’s soft-peddled to cater to audiences who prefer their endings happy and/or tidily wrapped up. And then there are those endings that give chills, as does Uptown Players’ production of the Michael John LaChiusa musical Hello Again. It’s chilling because, under John de los Santos‘ direction, there’s a visual image that perfectly captures the show’s cyclical theme, aided by the Kalita Humphreys Theater’s turntable stage. It’s at once thought-provoking and sentimental; the latter because of LaChiusa’s haunting music. De los Santos has ventured into the world of directing opera in recent years, and that delicate touch with letting the music guide the emotion serves him well here. The final two scenes, both hinging on Peterman’s Senator, are emotionally devastating.
It’s a brave choice of show for a company that has probably grown faster than any other local theater and has to think more about pleasing everyone. It’s definitely not the kind of box office/popular hit that preceded this production, The Producers. Uptown’s Hello Again is just as good, though, if not more satisfying. Whereas The Producers may have kept you laughing for a few days after, Hello Again will have you thinking for much longer.”
“Hello Again is a fairly innocuous title, for what has to be one of the most astonishing, audacious, painful, funny and often profoundly touching musicals I’ve ever seen. Once again, John de los Santos has evinced genius in orchestrating a demanding, volatile story that might have foundered in lesser hands. Working with a scintillating, fearless cast, he continues to push the envelope, directing intense and intelligent shows that remind us what theatre can do.”
“Uptown Players does a marvelous job in staging Hello Again. There are no weak links in this cast of ten. All of this exuding talent is directed with brilliance by John de los Santos. He composes beautiful stage pictures that help carry the emotions. He understands that each era has its own inherent body language and movement. It is one of the best directed shows I’ve seen all year.
As far as his choreography goes, he does a wonderful job of creating moods. In fact, the musical doesn’t have many dance sequences but feels as if every stage cross, movement and gesture was choreographed. Though stylistically different then Bob Fosse, there is a precision to his direction that is reminiscent of the great master. Hello Again is a well-produced musical that Uptown Players should be very proud of.”
“Uptown Players final production of its 2012 season is both an intriguing and somewhat hypnotic nearly sung through musical. Its subject matter is sexual trysts between the 10 characters that use the encounters to battle the voids of isolation and loneliness only to have those feelings amplified post-coital.
“Hello Again is billed as “An Adult Musical” and its onstage presentation is both graphic and frank. And frankly, it is most likely the most unusual show to appear in local theater this season. Director/Choreographer John de los Santos does some of his best work with Hello Again. He directs with both quiet restraint and confident boldness.”
“…while there’s a doleful quality to Hello Again — and there’s no denying that LaChuisa’s point of view lingers on the lack of sexual fulfillment — the remarkable achievement of this production is that it doesn’t leave you bitter or sad. There’s comedy, sprightly music (though LaChuisa ventures occasionally into atonal modernism) and engaging performances that perk up this still-serious riff on adult themes.
No segment is funnier than the 1960s, when a spoiled, adenoidal college kid feigns injury just so he can play doctor with his private-duty nurse, who cynically gets his rocks off only to leave him humiliated. That’s hardly the only tauntingly erotic scene. Director John de los Santos cleverly gives each decade its own sexual energy, it’s own “act” that shows the diversity of sex. There’s fellatio, cunnilingus, missionary, doggie, sodomy, even impotence — it’s as if the Kama Sutra got set to music.”