‘Tap Dance Kid’ is hitting the NY City Center!
I love Encores! The series at New York City Center seems thrilled to feature productions that take audiences back in time to some of the fantastical musicals we remember from our childhoods. In the past week alone, performances have been held of the phenomenal “The Tap Dance Kid”. Yes, I said “The Tap Dance Kid” – do you remember the original production? I certainly can! I was so excited to see that he was featured for a brief engagement this weekend – so excited! But my joy was increased tenfold when I saw the creative team behind it: Lydia R. Diamond did the concert adaptation of Charles
Blackwell; there were dazzling new tap sequences from choreographer Jared Grimes; and the splendid direction of Tony award-winning director Kenny Leon. The revival also had music by Henry Krieger, lyrics by Robert Lorick, and guest musical direction by Joseph Joubert.
This superb musical had audiences cheering, cheering and amazed as it told the story of Willie, a 10-year-old boy who comes from a wealthy black family and dreams of being a tap dancer like his uncle Dipsey and his famous grandfather, Papa Bates. Willie’s dream is something his father William fights against, as he wants Willie to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer. The dynamic of this family is quite interesting. As Father William tries to rule the lives of everyone from Willie to his daughter Emma to his wife Ginnie, he finds that when you rule people’s lives and ignore how they feel, you run the risk. to lose everything that means anything to you.
This musical is a tribute to the great tap dancers of our time; Bill Bojangles Robinson, the Nicholas Brothers and Sammy Davis Jr. and other big names in tap dancing were named on the show, but it was also an exhilarating, original and compelling presentation of some of tap dancing’s most dynamic acts. what you were hoping to see. There’s just something inspiring and uplifting about watching wonderful tap dancers who make it seem like there’s no effort. The vocals were also something to write home about. Alexander Bello played the 10-year-old kid with a huge love for tap dancing, singing, and entertaining. (You might recognize his name from his recent starring role in “Caroline, Or Change” on Broadway.) He has a wonderful vocal instrument and has proven to be a brilliant dancer. Shahadi Wright Joseph was absolutely phenomenal as his older sister Emma, who speaks out against the tyranny of the father and has the ability to be a good lawyer one day. Her singing was wonderful! Adrienne Walker was magnificent as Ginnie, Willie’s mother. She is a woman who tries to be faithful to her husband William, despite his bossy tone with her and the children. Walker sang beautifully. However, when it came to singing, the house fell apart when Joshua Henry, who played William, sang of his annoyance at the idea of his son being a dancer. Henry’s voice is so rich, so powerful, so distinctive – it just left everyone frozen, waiting to burst into uncontrollable applause! A tap dancer extraordinaire – Dewitt Fleming Jr. – commissioned the role of Daddy Bates, Willie’s deceased grandfather, who had been a famous tap dancer. He did everything and with extraordinary passion and grace! Trevor Jackson gave his all as Dipsey, Willie’s uncle who is a tapper and choreographer trying to put together a musical that shows great love for this wonderful form of dance. Tracee Beazer was memorable as Dipsey’s love interest and performer in her company, Carole. Chance Smith was good as Winslow. The Encores! The orchestra provided vibrant music and beautifully supported this fantastic work.
While the featured performers were dazzling, I can’t begin to describe the immense talent of the ensemble dancers. These many men and women will bring this incredible form of dance to life with splendour, grace and enthusiasm!
When you hear about an Encores! Series at New York City Center, get your ticket! For more information, visit www.nycitycenter.org.