Just in time for Thanksgiving, McCarter Theater Center will be serving up a feast for the senses (not just your ears) with a special live appearance by NPR star Ira Glass on Saturday, November 21, at 8 p.m. on the Matthews Stage. Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host combines Ira’s distinctive vocal style and knack for storytelling together with modern dance to create something different all together.
Monica Bill Barnes & Company Productions and Ira Glass, host of This American Life, have been working together to combine two art forms that — as Ira puts it — “have no business being together: dance and radio.” The result is a funny, lively and heartfelt evening of dance and stories that has brought down the house wherever it’s been performed, starting with its first test run at Carnegie Hall in 2013.
Ira Glass is the host and creator of the public radio program This American Life. The show is heard on more than 500 public radio stations in the U.S., and also on public radio in Canada and Australia. Most weeks it’s the most popular podcast in America. Under Glass’s direction, This American Life has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence. A television adaptation of the program ran on the Showtime network for two years, winning three Emmys.
The radio show has put out its own comic book, greatest hits compilations, live stage shows, two feature films, a “radio decoder” toy, temporary tattoos, and a paint-by-numbers set. A spin-off program called Serial ran for 12 weeks in 2014 and quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, the most listened-to podcast ever created. This is Glass’s professional dance show debut.
The show includes radio interviews restaged as dance pieces, plus stories from the lives of each of the three performers, Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes, and Anna Bass. “What makes it work is a shared sensibility,” Glass says. “As dancers, Monica and Anna are these amazingly relatable and funny storytellers without words.”
Bass notes, “I think it’s still blowing Ira’s mind to see some of the radio pieces remade this way, with props and costume changes and lighting cues.” Barnes adds, “combining these art forms has led to a show that’s unlike anything I’ve ever choreographed before.”
As the title indicates, the show is in three acts. Act one is about the job of being a performer. Act two: falling in love and what it means to stay in love. Act three: nothing lasts forever. “People who like This American Life will probably like this,” says Glass, “because it’s just like the radio show, um, if you picture dancing during all the stories.”
This program is exclusively co-represented by Steven Barclay Agency and Pomegranate Arts. Tickets are available at www.mccarter.org, by phone at 609-258-2787, or in person at the McCarter box office, 91 University Place in Princeton.