You can’t beat ‘Can’t Touch This’
Sacramento Ballet apprentice dancer Alex Stewart devised the first "At the Ballet" fundraiser for the local dance company three years ago as his senior project at Natomas Charter School. Last year, he and older brother Tim (another graduate of the Natomas school’s performing and fine arts program, who now attends CSUS with a double major in theater and deaf studies) collaborated on a second installment. They’re back — with a vengenance — this year with "At the Ballet III: Can’t Touch This!" which continues at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through June 17. It is one exhilarating rush of a show, swift in pacing and sure in execution.
The brothers (Alex is 20, Tim 22) are co-writers, co-producers, co-directors and co-stars of the show, which features a dozen talented singers and dancers performing 22 songs ranging from MC Hammer’s "U Can’t Touch This" to Beyonce’s "Single Ladies," from the Dixie Chicks’ "Cowboy Take Me Away" and Queen’s "Somebody to Love" to Ethel Waters’ "Stormy Weather." All the tunes are linked by a clever script that creates (or mimics — it’s hard to tell) real personalities of the cast members. Among them are divas, doufusses and daring dressers — although most of the show is performed "in uniform" of shirt, jeans and sneakers. In addition to the Stewart brothers, the likable cast (many of whom are current or recent CSUS students) includes Olivia Hughes, Ryan Blanning, Taylor "Tay" Grossman, Ruby Brungess, Urias Davis, Hunter Guenza, Rebecca Yarborough, Annie Purvis and Julia Soto. Carly Stewart (yes, a talented younger sibling of the brothers) and "Sean Nill" (who has a surprisingly close relationship to Tim Stewart) also are featured.
There is a relaxed cameraderie among the performers that allows for friendly give-and-take banter between the smartly selected songs. "Okay, It’s Alright With Me, "Forget You," "I Will Follow You," Make You Feel My Love, "Let’s Get It On" are among the highlights. The tunes — sultry, sexy, sometimes silly — are accompanied by live music from the excellent four-piece Shlagel-Shlage and the Shlaggets band.
So far, "At the Ballet" has raised more than $12,000 for the ballet company. The third installment has six more performances this weekend and next to push that total higher.
Disclosure: My wife assisted in soliciting donations to be awarded by drawing at the conclusion of "At the Ballet III."