Christmas Dreams with the Call Me Crazy Dancers

Kara and John Curtis Prepare a Christmas Gift for Roosevelt Island

Updated 1 year ago David Stone

Last December, John and Kara Curtis charmed audiences at Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance’s Howe Theatre, performing an original musical, On the Eve, with their Call Me Crazy Dancers troupe. This year, they’re at it again. Rehearsals have already begun.

At last year's rehearsal for On The Eve at MST&DA
At last year's rehearsal for On The Eve at MST&DA
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

“Our new show is Christmas Dreams.” John Curtis told The Daily, this week.

 “Kara and I are choreographing again, and I wrote the script. The music is mostly our own original music that we wrote and recorded in our group, the Call Me Crazy Dancers. 

“We pride ourselves on seeing our material through from the early writing process, to recording in the studio, to performing it on stage. To write, record, and perform our work is what the creative process is all about. 

“That is art.”

Kara, John and the Call Me Crazy Dancers have been at it, putting together original musicals in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York since 2012.

But both careers extend farther back.

An Actors Equity Association member, Kara first performed professionally at 13. Her bio says her favorite roles have been as “Ermengarde in Hello Dolly at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre under the direction of Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Shelly in Hairspray at the John Engeman Theatre in Long Island, and Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music at Syracuse Stage.”

Writer and co-choreographer, for Christmas Dreams, John Curtis
Writer and co-choreographer, for Christmas Dreams, John Curtis
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

For two decades, John has practiced his craft “in regional theaters, with choirs, bands, and dance ensembles. His choreography enlivened the stage at both the Philadelphia and Capital Fringe Festivals.”

Both John and Kara teach dance at MST&DA.

And somehow, they find time to raise a special up and coming, tiny dancer, ready to pick up the tradition, their daughter Leah.

Christmas Dreams is scheduled for December 16th and 17th.

“It follows the story of a group of performers putting on their annual Christmas show,” John says. 

“As in all of our shows, it's a story about people. The show is built around four dream ballet sequences, combining ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary dance. 

“At the heart of the story is the dancers and their internal struggles to make Christmas special. 

“One of the dancers in the story is a single mom trying to make it with her daughter who is also a dancer in the group. Another performer in the story lost a child in a tragic incident. She is trying to find faith at Christmastime when everyone is experiencing the joy of the season, but she is lost. There is a section of the show that we dedicate to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT. We will be coming up on the fifth anniversary of the tragedy this year.”

The tragedy at Sandy Hook had “a profound impact on so many of us in the area here, including Kara and me,” John adds.

John Curtis rehearsing a number from On the Eve in 2016
John Curtis rehearsing a number from On the Eve in 2016
© David Stone

“Can the performers overcome their own struggles in time to pull the show off? We will find out.

Christmas Dreams is in the spirit of the classic MGM musicals, but also with a modern sense of gravitas.”

In this year's cast are 8 adults and 13 children, some from Roosevelt Island  and trained at MST&DA. 

“The children,” John says. “continue to inspire Kara and I each year.” 

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