A few of our favorite things from The Yard

from Fräulein Maria — Photo by Grant Halverson

The Yard will present two shows that stretch the boundaries of dance and provide audiences with two different but very fun, funny, and unique theater experiences.

On Wednesday, July 25, at 8 pm and Thursday, July 26, at 6:30 pm, at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center (PAC), The Yard will host Doug Elkin’s campy, fast-paced “Fräulein Maria.”

It’s “The Sound of Music” as you’ve never experienced it. The satiric production combines a myriad of dance forms including hip hop, vogueing, stepping, and stomping as well as homages to artists such as Martha Graham and legendary clown Bill Irwin. The show, deconstructing “The Sound of Music” as a suite of dances, gives the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic a playful yet reverent poke in the ribs. Among other things, it features three Marias, nuns in hoodies and sneakers, and a burly, bearded “little” Liesl.

The New York Times called “Fräulein Maria” “A witting charming homage,” and “a mini-masterpiece of a certain kind.” The show was included in a list of the 10 best dance performances of 2008 in The New Yorker and was named the Decade’s Best Dance by Deborah Jowitt in the Village Voice.

Originally created for the Public Theater’s Joe’s Pub, “Fräulein Maria” has been picked up by regional theaters throughout the country and will return to New York for a run at Jacob’s Pillow this year. Last year, The Yard presented the show at the PAC for two nights over the July 4th weekend.

Yard artistic director David White brought it back this year by popular demand. Referring to it as a family friendly show, he said, “It has such a multigenerational appeal. People from 8 to 80 all loved it. It’s funny and poignant and true to its source.” The production was approved by the Rodgers and Hammerstein foundation.

The performance on Wednesday will be preceded by a fundraiser at the West Chop home of poet, author, and human rights activist Rose Styron, in celebration of The Yard’s 40th anniversary. Tickets for the cocktail party and reception are available from The Yard for $175; $300 per couple; $35 for kids, and includes admission for the Wednesday evening show. The Thursday show has an early, family-friendly start time of 6:30 pm.

“The Object Lesson”

Up next for The Yard is a new show by award-winning “new vaudevillian” Geoff Sobelle, called “The Object Lesson.” The show, which Mr. Sobelle has been working on while in a residency at The Yard, explores the human fascination with “things” – collecting, discarding, how we use things, and how we identify with things. Mr. Sobelle will literally build his “junk world” on site while performing what Mr. White refers to as “a mashup of theater and dance, written and spoken word material.”

Previously Mr. Sobelle has collaborated on shows that have attracted much critical attention in New York City and elsewhere. This will be one of his first experiments in solo work.

Mr. White describes the protagonist of the “The Object Lesson” as “An individual faced with a dysfunctional universe. Somebody who pursues the sublime ridiculousness of life.” He then adds, “That’s actually a good phrase to encapsulate the work of both Doug Elkins and Geoff Sobelle although they’re coming from different places in the theatrical spectrum.”

“The Object Lesson,” Friday, July 27, 8 pm; Saturday, July 28, 3 pm (free family matinee) and 8 pm. For more information, visit dancetheyard.org.

Gwyn McAllister of Oak Bluffs is a regular freelance writer for The Times.