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A CurtainUp Review
Tango Argentino A Revue in Two Acts

by Joan Eshkenazi

Age does not matter and size does not count, but passion does. Using nine erotically attired dance pairs, four emotionally charged vocalists supported by the scintillating rhythms of an orchestra of thirteen musicians, Tango Argentino presents an uninterrupted (except for a fifteen minute intermission) sensual journey through the tango of seduction. Without a Broadway style story line or a lavish set, we are transported into an evening of raw sensations. The intriguing costumes are of a basic slinky black and white with fringe benefits, high slits and jewels galore.

Except for three large cast numbers, each couple has the opportunity to display their own choreography using startling footwork, surprising twists and gravity defying dips. Outstanding is the final moment of Nelia and Nelson's routine as the lady is held with head just inches from the floor as her feet aim toward the ceiling. These two fine natives of Argentina have been dancing together since 1971 and have developed the trust necessary for such execution.

All, however, is not about acrobatics and startling technique. As the more experienced couples display less of the gymnastics, it is the subtle, intriguing movements that charm the audience. Hector and Elsa Maria Mayoral, two tango legends, serve as a prime example of sensitive partnering. They gracefully glide through their fluid transitions with endearing facial expressions that belie the years of practice and sweat. Hector has been dancing since 1960 and continues to infuse the spotlight with dignity as he tangos with compassion. When President Clinton visited Argentina, it was Hector who taught him the tango.

The only story telling number is "Milonguita" in which a Lolita-like ingenue is transformed into a vamp. With the fetching Vanina Bilous as the lead, this ballet is a tale of jealousy and revenge. In tango fashion, the dancers dramatically act out the transformation from innocence to defilement to death.

The orchestra of piano, strings and accordions provides the perfect background and accompaniment to the dancers in addition to presenting beguiling musical interludes. Noteworthy is the colorful piano playing of Osvaldo Berlingieri who is also the musical director.

The nightclub-y singers round out the evening with songs of love and memories. Jovita Luna is extremely fetching as she sings longingly of love and memories of Buenos Aires in her sultry rendition of "De Mi Barrio". Raul Lavie dramatically pours his heart out in front of all. Maria Grana sounds like Argentina's answer to Sophie Tucker as she belts out "Cancan Desesperado."

This fine production, conceived by Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli, is about as romantic as you can get. At times you might find it a bit schmaltzy, but a little schmaltz doesn't hurt anyone. Whether Tango Argentina plays best in a large Broadway theatre is another matter. This is basically best suited for a nightclub venue where the voyeurs' intimacy with these powerful ballroom dancers is possible. On the Gershwin's big stage the dance movements and sequences appear repetitious, whereas in a smaller setting they would be as bewitching as the strains of Ravel's "Bolero."

As all the couples grace the stage in the finale, each pair creates its own intimate, individualized duet to the pulsating rhythm. Although the women all wear the same sexy black garments, there's nothing look-alike about their movements.

Not to be confused with Forever Tango, (CurtainUps review), Tango Argentino returns to Broadway for the first time since 1985. For tango aficionados these tangueros in their sinuous garb and molded hairstyles challenging each other should be a real thrill

TANGO ARGENTINO: A Revue in Two Acts
Conceived and directed by Claudio Segovia
Choreographic conception, Segovia
Musical Directors: Osvaldo Berlingieri, Julio Oscar Pane, Roberto Pansera
Dancers: Juan Carlos Copes, Maria Nieves, Pablo Veron, Nelida and Nelson, Hector and Elsa Maria Mayoral, Carlos and Ines Borquez, Norma and Luis Pereyra, Carlos Copello and Alicia Monti, Roberto Herrera and Lorena Yacono, Guillermina Quiroga, Vanina Bilous, Antonio Cervila Jr., Johana Copes
Singers: Raul Lavie, Maria Grana, Jovita Luna, Alba Solis.
Set, costumes and lighting: Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli
Sound Design: Gaston Brisky
Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one 15 minute intermission
11/11/99-1/09/2000; opening 11/17/99
Gershwin, 222 W. 51 St., (Broadway/8th Av), 307-4100
Reviewed by Joan Eshkenazi based on 11/22 performance

©Copyright 1999, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
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