Bring on the neon lights and the crowded streets: Dance Professor David Dorfman’s recent foray into theater, Indecent, is headed for Broadway.
Dorfman ’81 is the choreographer for the highly acclaimed play written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel and directed by Rebecca Taichman. Indecent premiered at the historic Yale Repertory Theatre Oct. 8, 2015, before moving to La Jolla Playhouse and then to New York’s Vineyard Theatre. It officially opens on Broadway April 18 at the Cort Theatre.
“The director called me and said, ‘It’s going to Broadway.’ And I was just smiling and crying. I couldn’t believe it,” Dorfman said. “I’m still pinching myself.”
Indecent will be Dorfman’s Broadway debut.
“I was shy about the possibility, but as the crowds kept coming [to the play] and we kept changing it and it kept getting better, the more I thought, ‘People will want to see this show,’” he said.
The play tells the true story of another Broadway play, the controversial 1923 debut of Sholem Asch’s The God of Vengeance. Seen by some at the time as a seminal work of Jewish culture, others viewed the play as an act of traitorous libel; its producers and cast were even jailed for obscenity.
Dorfman, who leads the influential modern dance company David Dorfman Dance, said his challenge was to make the dance sections “very Jewish, and at the same time, innovative and new.”
“I set up a gestural vocabulary from the very beginning that speaks to what it is to be Jewish and at the same time confounds what we view as Jewish traits, movements and expressions,” Dorfman said.
One of the dance numbers in Indecent references a traditional Broadway feel; another is a piously irreverent take on Hasidic dancing. There’s also a brief Irish dance, so the play includes quite a range of styles, Dorfman said.
Indecent has received wide acclaim from critics. The New York Times called it “powerful” and a “superbly realized production,” while Variety described it as a “riveting backstage drama.”
Throughout the play’s run, Taichman has continued to make changes, turning a great play into a true masterpiece, Dorfman said.
“I truly admire Rebecca for the innovative, visionary, fastidious, collaborative work she has put into this play,” he said. “We joke that we’ve changed the first dance about 100 times. But it’s not really a joke.”