If you are a fan of Broadway musicals and love the lyrics of Billy Joel, then a ticket to see Movin’ Out, the Twlya Tharp-Billy Joel musical, is the perfect gift for the holiday season.
Movin’ Out is “a story told without language,” Tharp, the choreographer and creator of the musical, said in an article that appeared in Playbill. “Yes, they are Billy’s lyrics, but it’s told through a different medium. We don’t want audiences to come in expecting a standard Broadway musical. The movement and the action tell the story – the experience, the emotional resonance, comes from action rather than language.”
The newest musical to hit Broadway is playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater. It spans two difficult decades from 1967 to 1987 and tells the tale, in song and dance, of six lifelong friends: Brenda and Eddie from Joel’s song “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” Tony and Sergeant O’Leary from “Movin’ Out,” Judy from “Why, Judy, Why” and James from “James.”
Movin’ Out consists of two acts, the first beginning in Long Island in the 1960s. The king and queen of the prom, Brenda and Eddie, are finished, while forever sweethearts James and Judy are ready for marriage. Tony, a friend of theirs, is looking for that kind of love and he finds it with Brenda, who has now become an independent woman. War takes the men away from home, leaving their loved ones to pick up the pieces. During war, James loses his life, while Tony and Eddie return home broken as Judy grieves.
In Act II the vets try to get their lives back on the right path. Tony can’t seem to find a way to reconnect with Brenda, while Eddie can’t connect with anyone. Eddie finds himself falling into a lonely existence of drugs and self-loathing and as a result takes a tour through a nightmare of his past, with Judy acting as his guide.
By chance, he meets Judy jogging in the park and her forgiveness allows him to finally get his life back on track. Meanwhile, Brenda and Tony rediscover the love needed to heal their wounds.
Movin’ Out ends with the friends reuniting to discover they have all found their way back home.
The show is stolen by piano man Michael Cavanaugh, a 29-year-old Cleveland native who is a Joel sound-alike. Perched on a platform above the stage with the rest of the band, Cavanaugh plays and sings his way through nearly two hours and two dozen songs.
Classic Joel songs that grace the stage of Movin’ Out include, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Uptown Girl,” “Big Shot,” “Captain Jack,” “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and, of course, “Movin’ Out.” Cavanaugh told the New York Post in the Oct. 10 issue that when his piano teacher told him to “play something,” he would promptly pound out “It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll to Me,” the first song, coincidentally, in Movin’ Out.
Fans who saw the show on Friday, Nov. 15 walked out of the theater in a “New York State of Mind” as Billy Joel, the master himself, appeared on stage after the curtains closed. Shocked and screaming audience members snapped pictures and called loved ones on their cell phones as Joel played “New York State of Mind” and “Movin’ Out.”
The Broadway musical, like Joel’s unexpected performance, is a night to remember and will have fans “Movin’ Right In” to Richard Rodgers Theater.