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October 6, 2015

Billy Joel musical coming to PBS

by Julia Ward, posted Nov 2nd 2006 4:45PM
Movin OutMovin' Out, choreographer Twyla Tharp's take on the music of Billy Joel, is coming to television, thanks to PBS warhorse Great Performances.

Movin' Out received mixed, leaning towards favorable, reviews during its Broadway and out-of-town runs. Tharp won a Tony for her choreography, and Joel shared a Tony for its orchestration. This Joel-inspired outing hasn't been nearly as panned as Tharp's most recent take on Bob Dylan's catalog - The Times They are A-Changin'.

While the show has yet to be filmed by PBS, we can expect to see it on the air in the late winter or early spring of 2007.

Growing up, I remember seeing Tharp's Sinatra Songs and Push Comes to Show with commie defector and Sex in the City guest star Mikhail Baryshnikov on PBS. With all the TV options in the world out there, we still don't get much in the way of good concert dance, performance art or theater on television. Granted, each of these mediums was really meant to be seen live, but when you're living in the boonies, sometimes it's the only taste of the big city you get. If it weren't for short-lived PBS shows like Alive from Off Center and Egg, I'm not sure I would have discovered Buck Henry, Lou Reed, Ann Magnuson, choreographer Mark Morris and the Wooster Group while growing up in rural, pre-internet Florida. Forget me, would Joss Whedon have discovered Stephen Sondheim during his formative years without Great Performances and grown-up to give us "Once More with Feeling?" Maybe, but you get what I'm saying.

Billy Joel hardly makes for revolutionary television or theater, but at least, more folks will get to see some bodies in motion without having to tour the Big Apple.

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On a side note, that's a really good point about shows like Alive from Off Center and Egg and the current absence of this kind of performance from television. It's not just an issue of living outside the big city: I live in the middle of Manhattan and going out to see live performances here is still a big struggle...partly due to money going to things like rent instead, and partly due to the sheer number of choices making it impossible to see even a fraction of potentially interesting events. So good television shows of that ilk are indispensable no matter where you are.

November 03 2006 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I grew up listening to Billy Joel and really disliked this show.

I hear Tharp's Bob Dylan show has been getting scathing reviews.

November 03 2006 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i love that billy joel song that goes
"sing us a song. your a short bald man
sing us a song tonight"

November 02 2006 at 5:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I saw the road show of this and wasn't as impressed as I had hoped. My poor husband was bored to death and was glad when it was over. If you like dance, you will like this but if you like theater, this might be a stretch for you. I also saw Contact in NYC years ago and it was a similar concept of dance/music and it was much more entertaining than Moving Out.

But I applaud PBS for airing Broadway shows like this. PBS is an unsung hero in the network world. I also love their singer/concert specials too.

November 02 2006 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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