Devised by Stroman (who also choreographs and directs) and James Weidman, Contact presents three stories - titled "Swinging", "Did You Move?" and "Contact! - told through dance and dialogue as the characters struggle to connect with one another.
The piece is inspired by a real-life event when Stroman witnessed a young woman in a short yellow dress bedazzle a succession of suitors at an after-hours Manhattan dance club. "She was clearly there to make contact," recalls Stroman. "As I watched her, I thought to myself, 'by the end of the night, this girl is going to change some guy's life.'"
Commissioned by New York's Lincoln Center Theater, Contact first opened at the Newhouse Theatre in September 1999, then transferred to the larger Vivan Beaumont Theater on Broadway in March 2000. That year, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical, despite the fact that none of the performers sing. Contact will close after two-and-a-half years on Broadway on 1 September. The piece is now being adapted for a screen version, to be directed by Stroman.
Best known to UK theatregoers for her choreography in Trevor Nunn's revival of Oklahoma!, Stroman's many other stage credits include Crazy for You, Show Boat, The Music Man and the current Broadway production of The Producers,which swept the boards of last year's Tony Awards with 12 wins in total.
Umoja, which had its earlier West End season cut short following noise complaints at the Shaftesbury Theatre, opens at the Queen's on 18 June 2002, following previews from 5 June. It is booking there up 31 August, after which it is expected to transfer again to another venue.
- by Terri Paddock