Locking up my bike on a rail adjacent to the Boise State Special Events center, I slid my leg unknowingly along some nascently thorning rose bushes. Dodging other last minute Trey McIntyre Project arrivers congregating in the yellow-filled lobby, I ducked into the bathroom to nurse my wounds.
Not 30 seconds later, a woman ticket taker came rushing in to the bathroom breathlessly: “Trey is ready to start.” TMP, I was about to find out, are damn serious about what they do.
Whisked quickly inside the sold-out auditorium, my date and I plopped down in our seats just before the lights dimmed. Peter, Paul and Mary’s childish, yet oddly creepy words “I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor” flitted out over the speakers signaling the beginning of the evening’s first performance, “Leatherwing Bat.” In tiny hot pants and an oddly paired Pippin-esque jacket, John Michael Schert snaked and jerked his commandingly tall frame across the stage to refrains of “Howdy, howdy, diddle dum day.”
The rest of the piece, also set to music by Peter Paul and Mary, was a familiar childhood romp through emotional peaks and valleys. Clad like a boy from The Outsiders in tight-jeans and a jacket, Brett Perry eagerly hopped and zipped around the stage before ultimately falling asleep in the arms of mom, Virginia Pilgrim, during the song “Going to the Zoo.”
“Leatherwing Bat” was bookended by another solo Schert performance, this time with a narrowing spotlight fading to black on his saddened face as the last notes of “Puff the Magic Dragon” dissipated lingeringly.
If “Leatherwing Bat” read like a Brothers Grimm tale, then the company’s next dance, “(serious),” was more like a Brett Easton Ellis novel. In matching office attire—white button down shirts and butt-hugging gray slacks—dancers Perry, Chanel DaSilva, and Jason Hartley wound through a dark mist of sexual tension, detachedness and longing. Set to music by composer Henry Cowell, the dancers’ chemistry was electric as they pried themselves apart and yo-yo’ed back together throughout the performance. DeSilva had filled in for Annali Rose in the first dance, then gave a mesmerizing and elegantly compelling performance in “(serious),” her heavy breaths faintly audible as the act drew to a close.
After a brief intermission, and not wanting another dose of door attendant chiding, we quickly settled into our middle-back row seats. The final dance “Ma Maison,” burst out colorfully with soulful tunes from New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Two spandex-wrapped jokers with Nightmare Before Christmas skull masks bobbling on their heads shook their loose limbs to the rattle of a tambourine. The rest of the company emerged at various times throughout the 28-minute dance also wearing skull masks and an array of wacky costumes. Schert gave another strong performance as a Jack Skellington, tattered suit-wearing character, making sweeping leg movements to a menacing funeral-style march as the rest of the company shuffled in a conga line behind him.
As my date delicately plucked my bike from the menacing rose bushes, we agreed that “Ma Maison” was, by far, the most stimulating of the dances shown at this TMP performance. Though I found the other two—particularly “(serious)”—much more difficult to sort out my feelings for, we agreed on the obvious: that clan can dance.