"YOGA THE MUSICAL," SB DANCE, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Friday (355-2787)

SB Dance finally did it. The independent company has left traditional modern dance in the dust and has become a bona-fide performance-art company.

Artistic director Stephen Brown has always dabbled in theatrics with his high-concept productions, but "Yoga the Musical" is pure Broadway.

Singing, dancing, spoken lines, character development and the big ballad added up to a just over an hour's worth of entertainment. And like it's subject — yoga — the entertainment was "enlightening."

"Yoga the Musical" follows the intertwining storylines of Frankie (Paul Mulder), who bootlegs and markets yoga; a yoga guru Danny (James Dale, his competition Jackti (Natosha Washington), Frankie's ex-wife Sheila (Kim Lynn), and ex-lawyer-cum-yoga-disciple Henri (Nathan Shaw).

The cast also includes yoga entrepreneurs Zoe and Chloe (Natalie Bruner-Wilhelm and Jennifer Larsen) and Frankie's crony Franny (Corinne Penka).

While the production focuses on the interaction of these characters, it also has something to say about the bigger picture — taking a 3,000-year-old spiritual practice and marketing it to suburbia with the slogan "This is Yoga America."

The dancing had its time in the spotlight and featured Brown's eye-catching, quirky and innovative choreography. (Brown is also a yoga practitioner and teacher).

The music, written by Ricklin Nobis and Jimmy Fassler, served as a solid vehicle for the actors/dancers to emote Brown's cynical, satirical and often side-splitting lyrics.

With minimal sets — mostly yoga mats and projected images — the cast moved freely about the stage, hamming it up. But there was no scenery chewing. Each character's development was balanced, complementing the others.

And when the production ended with a cliffhanger ("to be continued in June 2008"), the sold-out audience roared with laughter and gave an enthusiastic standing ovation.

If "Yoga the Musical" is a step in the direction that Brown and SB Dance is destined to go, then it will be interesting to see what will happen after the conclusion next year and the production after that.


E-mail: scott@desnews.com