Frank Sinatra plus Twyla Tharp seems an unusual equation, but it's just about as brilliant as pi. His music and her choreography work in tandem in Tharp's dance revue "Come Fly Away," which opens Tuesday at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
A huge fan of Old Blue Eyes, Tharp has been incorporating his sound into her work since the 1970s. "Come Fly Away" is part of that creative progress. The show opened on Broadway in 2010 with a cast of 16 dancers. It's set in a nightclub and follows the relationships of four couples. However, audiences can expect more dance than substantial storyline.
Matthew Stockwell Dibble made his Broadway debut in Tharp's revue, and now he's part of the national tour production as Chanos.
"Sinatra's voice, the meaning behind what he says, the lyrics and the way he delivers them lend themselves to Twyla's choreography," Dibble said. "It's the way he seems to break or stretch a word. If he sang 'I Did It My Way,' he put the accent on 'my.' That accent accentuates the choreography and puts a different emphasis on the movement."
Dibble has watched the show transform over the past two years. It started with two acts and then was pared down to one for Las Vegas.
"That's what's wonderful about working with Twyla. Nothing is ever stale. This show keeps evolving into something else," Dibble said.
Dibble has been a member of Twyla Tharp Dance for 10 years. The British dancer's home base is New York City, but he travels a lot. He was on the road with Tharp's Billy Joel-inspired "Movin' Out" for three years. The nomad's life "still doesn't feel old to me. I've never liked to stand still for very long," he said.
He's worked hard to travel this path, entering England's Royal Ballet School at 11, joining the Royal Ballet at 18 and forming a company in Tokyo. When he returned to London, he got a call from Tharp to join her company.
"I've worked with Twyla for over 10 years. The thing I love about her is when she comes into the studio, she doesn't expect more of her dancers than she gives herself, which is really high. You'd better be on your game. She taught me to approach dance in an incredibly different way. It almost goes beyond dancing with Twyla. She brings something more out in you," Dibble said.
'COME FLY AWAY'
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; through April 1
Where: David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Morsani Hall, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa; (813) 229-7827 or www.strazcenter.org
Tickets: $38.50 to $79.50