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Singing to recorded music signals that you can’t afford live musicians. What Twyla Tharp has done in Come Fly Away, putting a big band onstage to accompany recorded vocals by Frank Sinatra, signals that she couldn’t afford not to have live musicians. Not if she wanted a commercial product that could justify hefty ticket prices, anyway. But it’s a superfluous gesture that the famed choreographer has made in her latest dance musical — one that subjugates Sinatra’s voice more than it showcases it, and one that confines her impossibly beautiful dancers to a generically glossy nightclub setting from which Tharp draws something short of inspiration. In its glimpses of the romantic entanglements among four couples, Come Fly Away only hints at emotional complexity as it hurtles through nearly 30 Sinatra songs in not even the 80 minutes it’s advertised to run. Twarp’s intensely athletic style here trumps the passion that should be on display, making for an affair that’s easy on the eyes and, alas, easy on the heart, too. Closes this Sunday, April 29. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $69 to $125. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org. Reviewed by Jonathan Padget
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