Entertainment :: Theatre

Sonya Tayeh Choreographs Shakespeare and Jeff Buckley in ’The Last Goodbye’

by Lisa Lipsey
Monday Oct 7, 2013
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Sonya Tayeh
Sonya Tayeh  

The San Diego arts scene simply rocks. The caliber of theatre, the opportunity to see new works, it is all happening here. So, it should come as no surprise that the Old Globe nabbed 2013 Emmy Award-winner Sonya Tayeh to choreograph its West Coast premiere production of "The Last Goodbye."

Tayeh comes to us hot off of a wonderful season on "So You Think You Can Dance." And prior to that Tayeh directed and choreographed world tours and stage performances for Madonna, Florence and the Machine and Miley Cyrus. (Hummm, but not most-recently... Perhaps Miley should have stuck to taking direction from Tayeh)! She has also received many accolades for teaching and choreography, including making Dance Magazine’s "25 To Watch."

For The Globe’s "The Last Goodbye" Tayeh has the challenge of choreographing a morph between the story of Shakespeare’s tragic young lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, and the music of Jeff Buckley. Not unlike Romeo and Juliet, the gifted singer-songwriter and guitarist Buckley had his life and career cut all too short. He passed away just after cutting his first studio album. This show, adapted by Michael Kimmel and directed by Tony Award-winner Alex Timbers, has been officially dubbed a rock-musical and is named after a Buckley song.

Tayeh says, "This show is important to me, it is a body of ages. It is so immersed with love and desperation and passion and hatred. There is familiarity in it. It really embodies humanity. It taps into death, escaping death, fighting, loving with your entire might. I am emotionally invested in this story and its honesty. Society doesn’t always believe young people can truly love and feel. Jeff’s lyrics are honest, connected and beautiful and so is Shakespeare’s play."

After having been in the television world on "So You Think You Can Dance," Tayeh says, "I am enjoying learning from our Director Alex Timbers and from the amazing visual artists who makeup our cast. "The Last Goodbye" is all about storytelling. It is a different brain, theatre, a slower process. Being immersed in Shakespeare’s language and Buckley’s music, growing with it. The Last Goodbye is amazing, beautiful and something special. At the end of each day I feel completely satisfied and completely exhausted."

"Commercial work is a completely different formula," continued Tayeh, "With a television show, everything has to be scripted. You have to know what to you want to do and there is a shorter amount of time. You learn to work on your toes and with speed. In theatre, yes there is a script, a storyline, but the process of rehearsals, testing the water, reviewing it allows me to take things a little further out of the known realm."

Tayeh feels invigorated and driven by the fact that dance is making a comeback. "Dance is open to the world much more these days. People are open to seeing and embracing unique styles and are seeking to have an experience. Dance becomes a moment of escape for them. I feel the same way. I could stay in a place of comfort, one that is easy and makes sense, but I would never evolve and express accordingly. I really believe that dance is transformative. I find it hard to be unhappy or get stressed out, waking up every day and doing what I love."


"The Last Goodbye" runs from Sunday, October 6 through Sunday, November 3 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. For tickets and more information call 619.234.5623 or go to theoldglobe.org.

Copyright Rage Monthly. For more articles from Rage visit www.ragemonthly.com

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