Previous Issues:

March/April 2003

December 18, 2002

November 15, 2002

October 15, 2001



Stage Pages


Issue: July 1, 2003

Come Inside My World!

By Dennis Hensen

Editors Note:  Secrets Every Dancer Tells has now moved from Club Escuelita to Wings Theatre (154 Christopher St.)

From the moment you walk into Club Escuelita, you enter the world of Secrets Every Dancer Tells by Steven Thornburg. Once you step inside, you go downstairs and pay your admission to enter a cavernous room with a stage to one side, bars with stools to the side and back of the clubroom and pulsing disco from yesteryear. The only thing that seemed to be missing was a bouncer and a couple of hustlers trying to snag a catch; otherwise the dark, less than upscale setting made this arena perfect for its subject matter.

What is the subject matter you may ask? The answer: six dancers revealing their inner world as they start revealing themselves. Sometimes it’s surprising as in the case of Doc (Brendan Burke) who has lost weight and his boyfriend has put him up to stripping or Ron Hardwood (Chad Jeffries) who is not gay at all but is obsessed with homosexuals. Other times, it’s more obvious as in the case of Bobby (Scott James) whose sole purpose is to make money to escape a dysfunctional past or Jamesie (Jesse Janowsky) who is into older daddy types who perhaps hopes to snag a lover from the audience. The other two fall into the fantasy types: Papi (Alexander Da Silva) and Cowboy (Terrence Precord).

In its third incarnation, the writing of Secrets has been trimmed by playwright Steven Thornburg and his effort was well worth it. Instead of very long internal monologues that each character performs twice (one with clothes, the other without) he has taken the wordiness out and now allows each character to be inter-cut with the others, giving the play more flow and contrast. Also this time, to Thornburg’s credit, the stripping occurs at the end of the evening to reveal the dancers’ backsides. The play works better dramatically as a tease opposed to an all out nude fest. In the earlier productions, when the boys were fully nude for their second monologues, the audience stopped listening to the play.

Director Frank Calo, who has been attached with the play from the beginning, does extremely well with the flow of the piece minus the overly long silent scene at the top of the show where nothing seems to happen. He gets at least two very good performances from Scott James and Chad Jeffries. Both actors have dancer’s bodies that make their performance passable in terms of what one would see at a strip club plus both actors have embodied their parts with believable behavior. The work of Alexander Da Silva and Terrence Precord was solid but their diction made it hard to completely understand what they were saying. Da Silva and Percord however seemed to have had a great time and that really showed in their performances. Jesse Janowsky’s work seemed too animated and needed to be reined in. Brendan Burke was very good as the homophobic brother in Michael Doesn’t Live Here Anymore last March but completely miscast here. He’s not at home with his body to pass as a stripper and registers more as a deer caught in the headlights than being liberated by dancing for men.

After two previous productions, "Secrets Every Dancer Tells" has finally found a perfect venue for its quest for the truth behind the glittering eyes, the pursed lips and the sways of the boys who strip for you. After honing the piece, writer Steven Thornburg and director Frank Calo have chiseled the excess and have turned "Secrets" into a fast paced, lucid and satisfying theatrical experience.