The background info is in http://www.playbill.com/cgi-bin/plb/theatre?cmd=show&code=B39&selector=Broadway -- however, I can jot that down to this node if necessary.
Contact, from Lincoln Center Theatre (not the movie), has its reasons why it has received the "best musical" for this year's Tony Awards. I've seen a dance show before in Broadway, being Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance, but I didn't like it well not because of the Fosse choreography but because of the lack of a story or at least a narrative about Mr. Fosse's career.
Contact has three stories, each with the theme of contact (that is, to touch) with another human being. Swinging, a story based on the 1768 painting The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. A woman (Stephanie Michels) on a swing plays with her aristocrat lover, but the playing becomes a moment to reach or a passionate grab by her servant (Scott Taylor). The story was more of an appetizer, to be "dancey" but less "traditional" than expected.
Did You Move? is a ballet story about an abusive husband (Jason Antoon) and his wife (Karen Ziemba -- who won a Tony award for her role in this show) in a night in an Italian restaurant. I had the urge to call the husband a Jabroni, perhaps chanting asshole, but I'll put that aside. When the husband gets away from the dinner table, expecting his wive "not to fucking move," she starts daydreaming, to dance and to be silly with the two couples around her. She starts to dance with the headwaiter (David MacGillivray), to look at him, to flirt, to yearn and reach for the nearest human being who is not that husband. The wife became as playful as the real Ms. Ziemba herself (from Chicago: The Musical and The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936), to be so dreamy but so real when the husband came back to see her in the middle of the stage. The husband fights with the men of the restaurant, leading to him producing a gun underneath his jacket and a fight for that piece as well--ii..it.--a;o w4o3afasd90---(static, the kind when you tune a TV with bad reception...)
(click, click, click-click...)
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
--From the Spoon Boy (Rowan Witt) in The Matrix.
(Bzzzt--click, click, click-click--the review comes back on! However, a phone rings with a blinking red light...)
--The last story (Contact) is about one Michael Wiley (actor Boyd Gaines -- he received the Tony Award for best featured actor in this show), an advertising executive who has won a Clio Award (again) but is down on the dumps. He knows how to make good ads, but at the expense of his health. He never sees his therapist, and he was drunk for the award show. He goes back home wanting something... to kill himself. But he dropped his sleeping pills and can't even make a good noose, so he has nowhere to go but out to some dive with swing dancers of all kinds. It reminds me of myself in college, where all of the "normal" people can dance and can look good at it excepting me. But that is when the Girl in the Yellow Dress (Deborah Yates) comes in.
What are you waiting for? You're faster than this. Don't think you are. Know you are. -- Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix), when he was testing Neo's saying "I know kung fu."
It was a rough trip for the ad-man to dance with the Girl, being that bigger men and playas are all around her. Mr. Wiley's life flashes with his loneliness, to his therapist on the phone, the complaining neighbor downstairs, and back to the dive with the Girl. But this trip is worth it. He'll fly. He'll fly.
The music is all recorded, from Tchaikovsky, bit of Bizet, and some Squirrel Nut Zippers and Beach Boys for good measure. This was the source of a big debate about the nomination of thie show as a musical. However, the big show has received the award (Best Musical) as well as Ms. Ziemba and Mr. Gaines (best performance by a featured actress and actor in a musical).
Contact is a great show. It's not a light little dance play, nor it's a big musical. It's a bit of both. It's more of an anthology of stories about wanting human contact (from the choreographer Susan Stroman) and reality/non-reality.
To deny our own impulses... is to deny the very thing that makes us human. -- Mouse (Matt Doran) from The Matrix.