CoHo’s “The Snowstorm”: A Breathtaking New Art Form

Is it too early to say I just saw the best show of 2015? I know it’s only January, and I’m totally going to keep an open mind, but CoHo Productions’ The Snowstorm is going to be hard to beat.

We don’t have a word for this type of performance in English. It’s a play set to music, but there isn’t any singing and it isn’t just a play. The music is pieces by Sergei Rachmaninoff…played live! Director and choreographer Jessica Wallenfels’ program notes tell us that a play set to music with no singing is officially a melodrama, but that isn’t quite right. The performance is built around and driven by the music, and the story is told as much through movement as through words. It’s like they took the best bits of each type of live performance (except musicals) and in each moment used the bit that fit the story best. The result was breathtaking.

The Snowstorm is about grief, about holding on, and about letting go, but mostly it is about love and the wonderful and terrible power it can have over us. All of the performers are excellent, but the two that stand out are Jamie M. Rea as Anna Lebedeva and Matthew Kerrigan as Sergei. The most powerful scenes with the two of them together — Anna both seeking comfort in and being held prisoner by the memory of the lover she lost many years ago. And then there’s Eric Nordin, who conceived the show and plays all of the music — incredible.

The Snowstorm is a beautiful exploration of the relationship between words and music and movement, and it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There’s much more, but I don’t want to give it away. Just go see this show.

The Snowstorm runs at the CoHo Theatre through February 7. The space is small, and last night it looked like they had sold more tickets than they had seats, so don’t wait!

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