Second time’s the charm for ‘Movin’ Out,’ Phillips

Tharp revamps show, gets better review from Tribune critic

NEW YORK — Twyla Tharp didn’t get many takers to re-review her Broadway-bound “Movin’ Out” in Chicago.

Set to the songs of Billy Joel, the show opened in late July at the Shubert Theater, where it received mixed to downbeat reviews. Michael Phillips’ negative notice in the Chicago Tribune quickly found its way into Newsday, where it was reprinted for all of the pop star’s Long Island fans to read.

Needless to say, the producers of “Movin’ Out” were less than happy at Newsday’s decision to run the review a good three months before the show opens on Broadway.

Tharp, however, immediately set about revising the show and, in a novel turn, invited critics to come back and see it at the end of its Chi run Sept. 1. Apparently, she had only one taker, but he was the big one: Phillips.

“Tharp’s extensive revisions — focusing on act one and its problems of narrative clarity — have made for a clearer, more satisfying show,” Phillips wrote in the Tribune. “The revisions haven’t smoothed out all the bumps. But Tharp’s changes may give the show a better chance at Broadway success.”

Phillips reported that the Chi audience responded “politely” to the formerly troubled first act and “enthusiastically to the often exhilarating second act.”

In an unusual move, Phillips sprinkled quotes from Tharp throughout his second review of “Movin’ Out.”

Of her revisions, the director-choreographer told the critic, “The guiding principle was this: If it’s confusing, cut it out. . . . We simply had too many elements. I guess the word is ‘overload.’ ”

“Movin’ Out” begins previews Sept. 30 at the Richard Rodgers Theater, with its Gotham preem set for Oct. 24.

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