Collide Theatrical Dance Company has a rambunctious hit on its hand with "SKOL," a rocking musical told through jazz dance, original music and a lively Viking ship that sails across the stage.
Created by Collide's artistic director Regina Peluso, the story follows the legendary life of Lagertha, a Viking Shield Maiden played by Renee Guittar. After her mother is killed when she's a baby, Lagertha is raised by her uncle Ragnar, a Viking earl played by the talented Jarod Boltjes.
Guittar displays her gifted dancing chops and her skill in character building and acting into the nonspeaking role, bringing the audience along as her Lagertha grows from a little girl to Viking warrior to leader, suffering losses and gaining wisdom along the way.
Dancers who play supporting roles also help to fill out the story nicely. Javan Mngrezzo as the Christian doctor and Patrick Jeffrey as Lagertha's boyfriend add intrigue to the plot as they rival for her affection. The young Elza Schmerler, meanwhile, plays the feisty Solveig, who sneaks onto the ship, with lots of spunk.
In addition to dancing in them, Guittar choreographed two of the numbers — "Freya's Calling" in the first act and "Listen" in the second. Peluso, Heather Brockman, Rush Benson and Kyle Weiler are the other choreographers who create movement for different sections and manage to keep the overall arc cohesive. It's broad and sweeping, with lots of arm thrusts, slick turns and wide kicks.
The fight scenes are especially exciting, accompanied by the heavy chords and licks of the three-piece band. Wielding spears and axes, the battles are a frenzy of action. The scenes at sea, too, bring an element of high spectacle, with the Viking ship, designed by Robin McIntyre, stealing the show.
Benson, who also is the narrator Odin, wrote song lyrics in collaboration with composer Mike Michel (who plays guitar in the band) and arranger Katie Gearty, who played the Goddess Freya, the other narrator, in the first weekend. While the singing narrators help to provide context for the dances by laying out the plot, the music creates a rollicking energy, moving the action along.
There's one other singer, and that's Ben Siglin in his slimy portrayal of King Harald, and he performs in typical musical theater convention with song and dance.
In the rest of the show, the dancers employ gesture and facial expression to indicate transpiring dialogue and action, along with their dance moves. It's a unique facet of Collide's style with the more typical musical theater moments woven in pretty seamlessly.
In all, it's a feel-good piece of entertainment that will have you celebrating female power.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., through April 9.
Where: Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Av. S., Mpls.
Tickets: $45-$55, 651-395-7903, collidetheatrical.org.