reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s production of There’s No Place Like Home, which plays this weekend only at Tarkington Theatre, displays choreographer Hancock’s reflections on his own personal journey in life. To tell his account, the imaginative Mr. Hancock skillfully adapts a familiar entity – the Wizard of Oz story – and supplants it to an Asian-Indian setting, which opens the tale up to some remarkable dance forms and eye-popping costuming. The Indian cultural influences in both of these areas are profound.

The result is a tour de force art piece, rendered in dance, color, and emotion. It is, without doubt, one of the most gorgeous theatre offerings I have ever seen.

Filling two 50+ minute acts – the story arc is one of loss, rededication, relearning, facing personal adversities, getting past them, and returning to the comforts of one’s home – renewed. The primary method of the story-telling – dance – is given to us in heaping quantities of variety, artistry and beauty. Two principal dancers, Thomas Mason as The Boy and Abigail Lessaris as all the many forces which influence him (identifiable as Mother India, Mother Ganges, Saraswati, Buddha and Hanuman) both give superb performances, not only in terms of their dancing talents, which are immeasurable here, but also in their connection, their emotion, and their story-telling skills.

Plenty of other remarkable performances support the principals. Adrian Dominguez takes the featured role of The Boy’s adversities – his griefs, fears, doubts and cancer issues. Appearing as a faceless entity dressed all in black, he haunts, confronts and battles The Boy.

Thomas Mason portrays The Boy in GHDT’s “There’s No Place Like Home”

A dozen female dancers from the GHDT troupe and their G2 wing of apprentices, handle most of the supportive roles, and theirs are some of the most joyful and mysterious offerings. Colorfully costumed for each of their stage visits, they swirl and bend to remarkable Indian tempos and instrumentations which dazzle the eye and the ear. An additional group of Kathak Dancers, choreographed by Anindita Sen, go even deeper into the cultural traditions of Indian dance.

Abigail Lessaris in one of her many unbelievably ornate costumes for GHDT’s “There’s No Place Like Home”

In a word, the program, which also features the lighting design magic of Ryan Koharchik, is amazing. All elements come together to build a profoundly original dance theatre production. It was notable to see a great turnout of our Indian citizens, many of whom dressed for the occasion in beautifully classic saris and tunics. The cultural outreach of this event has certainly meant a lot to the Indian community, as well as being an artistic education for the rest of us.

The Boy on The Golden Path in a scene from GHDT’s “There’s No Place Like Home”

Bottomline: It is a hard reality that this wonderful, high end presentation is only scheduled for one three night weekend at the Tarkington, and two of those nights have passed. I urge you to give a lot of thought to attending tonight’s final performance. As lucky as we are to have the plethora of unbelievably fine theatre in our community, this is indeed rare stuff!

Tickets for There’s No Place Like Home at the Tarkington Theatre are available by calling 317-843-3800 or by going to http://www.thecenterpresents.org/tickets-events/events/2122/resident-companies-2122/ghdt-there-s-no-place-like-home. Please do yourself a favor and go! You can thank me later.

  • – photos by Julie Curry