We gave it a B+
As he freely admits, Ira Glass doesn’t have the ideal build for a dancer. But that makes it all the more enjoyable when the longtime NPR host swings his willowy limbs alongside professional dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass in the medium-mixing stage show Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host. (The show, first staged at Carnegie Hall in 2013, is now touring two dozen cities nationwide.)
Like Glass’ moves, the melding of two seemingly incompatible forms—radio and dance—comes off as awkward and winning at the same time. Barnes and Bass bring recorded storytelling segments to life with pirouettes, break-dancing, and Buster Keaton-style mugging. Glass cues the clips with graceful swipes at a tablet device, but aside from the choreography and the spectacle, which includes the re-creation of an awkward junior high dance, the aural portion of the show is just an extended episode of This American Life.
Segments include a light story of the cast of Riverdance buying lottery tickets together and a sad poem about an elderly couple facing mortality. The most poignant intersection of dance and interview, however, comes when Glass’ conversation with Barnes and Bass themselves play as they all share the stage—the dancers speak candidly about their friendly competition, the high stakes of every performance, and the relatively short career of performers in their chosen art.
This lovingly crafted show doesn’t revolutionize any mediums, but it’ll play well to the loyal NPR set. B+
(Tickets and tour info: oneradiohosttwodancers.com)