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Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
Theatrical poster for the world premiere of the play Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2001
Theatrical poster for the world premiere season in 2001
Written byRichard Alfieri
CharactersMichael Minetti
Lily Harrison
Date premiered7 June 2001[1]
Place premieredGeffen Playhouse, Los Angeles
Original languageEnglish
Subjectageism, intolerance
Genrecomedy, drama
SettingSt. Petersburg Beach, Florida
Early 21st century (prior to Obergefell v. Hodges ruling in 2015)
Official site

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a 2001 play by American playwright Richard Alfieri.[1] It is a play with only two characters: Lily Harrison, the formidable widow of a Baptist minister, and Michael Minetti, a gay and acerbic dance instructor hired to give her dancing lessons.[2] It premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles (with Uta Hagen and David Hyde Pierce in its two roles)[1] before moving to Broadway.[3] It has gone on to performances in 24 countries and been translated into 14 languages.[2]


Lily Harrison is a self-described "tight-arsed old biddy"[4] living alone in St Petersburg Beach on the gulf coast of Florida. As the play opens, she is waiting for her first of six weekly in-home dance lessons.[2] Her tutor is Michael Minetti, an acerbic gay man who has been forced by circumstances to leave his life as a chorus boy on Broadway and to take work as a dance instructor.[5] Lily is Michael's first client, and their first lesson does not go well owing to his foul language and the fact that both are bitter. Each lies to the other, Lily claiming her husband is soon coming home (in fact, she is a widow whose life was cramped by her Southern Baptist Minister husband), and Michael claiming to be married to hide both his homosexuality and the pain of his lover's death.[4][5] As the lessons continue, an improbable friendship develops out of their shared testiness and solitude.[4] It becomes clear that Lily did not need lessons but rather a dance partner, and the pair enjoy time together outside of their lessons. The friendship grows to the point where Lily is playing match-maker for Michael, and Michael is caring for Lily as her health deteriorates.[6]

Notable productions

Arthur Allan Seidelman directed the play for its 2001 premiere in Los Angeles at the Geffen Playhouse (with Uta Hagen and David Hyde Pierce)[1] and for the 2003 season at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami (with Rue McClanahan and Mark Hamill).[7] McClanahan bowed out of the role of Lily and was replaced by Polly Bergen as the production moved on to Broadway.[3][7] Seidelman also directed productions in the West End of London (with Claire Bloom and Billy Zane) in 2006[4] and the Los Angeles revival (with Constance Towers and Jason Graae) in 2008.[8]

The play was produced in Australia in 2006 by the Ensemble Theatre under then-artistic director Sandra Bates, pairing Todd McKenney in his first non-musical play with Nancye Hayes.[9][10] The pair reprised these roles ten years later, reuniting with Bates in her final directorial role.[9][11] As of 2016, it is the most successful play in the theatre's 58-year history.[11] The Ensemble Theatre, in collaboration with Christine Dunstan Productions, took the play on tour and won the 2007 Helpmann Award for Best Regional Touring Production.[12]

Todd McKenney and Nancye Hayes performing together in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks – dancing the swing (top left), tango (top right), and waltz (bottom left) – photos by Clare Hawley from the 2016 Ensemble Theatre production at the Concourse Theatre, Chatswood

In addition to the above productions, this play has been translated into 14 languages[2] and been performed in cities including Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Bielefeld, Bonn, Budapest, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Helsinki, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Madrid, Munich, Prague, Salzburg, São Paulo, Seoul, Stuttgart, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, and Vienna.[13] According to Variety, the play has been produced widely,[14] and the publisher Samuel French describes it as an "extremely popular" play which has "enjoyed tremendous success both nationally and internationally."[15] The play's website describes it as "an international hit and one of the most produced plays in the world."[2]


Alfieri developed Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks into a screenplay for the 2014 film adaptation, which was directed by Seidelman and starred Gena Rowlands and Cheyenne Jackson in the lead roles.[14] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that the film has an overall approval rating of 45%, based on 11 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 5.5/10.[16] Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 50 out of 100, based on eight critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17]


  • Alfieri, Richard (2005). Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 9780573602795.


  1. ^ a b c d Oxman, Steven (10 June 2001). "Review: 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks'". Variety. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The International Hit Play 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' by Richard Alfieri – The Play". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b Gans, Andrew (21 November 2003). "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks to Close Nov. 23". Playbill. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Billington, Michael (2 December 2006). "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  5. ^ a b Brown, Peter (30 November 2006). "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  6. ^ Alfieri, Richard (2005). "Week Ten – Bonus Lesson". Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. Samuel French, Inc. pp. 81–83. ISBN 9780573602795.
  7. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth (27 June 2003). "Rue McClanahan Bows Out of Bway's Six Dance Lessons; Hamill Ready to Dance". Playbill. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  8. ^ Stoudt, Charlotte (5 November 2008). "'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  9. ^ a b Hallett, Bruce (13 February 2006). "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  10. ^ Huntsdale, Justin (17 February 2016). "Theatre legends Todd McKenney and Nancye Hayes unite for heart-warming play". ABC News. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b Hook, Chris (3 February 2016). "Ten years later, McKenney and Hayes bring Six Dance Lessons play back for another spin on stage". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Helpmann Awards – Past nominees and winners". Helpmann Awards. 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  13. ^ "The International Hit Play 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' by Richard Alfieri – Major Productions". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  14. ^ a b Chang, Justin (16 December 2014). "Film Review: 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks'". Variety. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  15. ^ Samuel French (2016). "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (Release Date: Dec 12, 2014)". Metacritic. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
This page was last edited on 26 March 2018, at 15:09
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