I’ll admit it, this was my first Our Fabulous Variety Show experience, and with the title Tap: An Evening of Rhythm, coupled with pre-show sightings of little girls in leotards and heavy makeup, I steeled myself for what was bound to be an excruciatingly long evening.
But boy, was I wrong.
Instead of just shuffling off to Buffalo with a ball-change here and there (I’m a Helen Butleroff tap survivor myself), Anita Boyer and Kasia Klimiuk offer up a high-quality, professional multi-media event, including a video homage to some of the early greats and a lesson on the history of tap, coupled with exceptionally interesting and provocative numbers.
Can you picture tap dancing to the off-beat, cool jazz signatures of Dave Brubeck? A drop-the-bass, sampled rap version of “Singin’ in the Rain”? Or a full-on “Tap Wars” featuring Luke and Leia, Han and Chewy, and an adorable band of little Ewoks?
Although there were anchors that fastened the show to reality — Edward Kassar and Joe Pallister host the evening and banter, burlesque revue-style, in between numbers, and there’s a Rockettes dance set to Frank Sinatra’s version of the Kander and Ebb classic “New York, New York” — those anchors are offset by unique turns like “It’s a (Super) Man’s World,” with a cast of Batmans, Jokers, and Wonder Womans, along with other favorite comic book icons, and a salute to the Armed Forces.
And here’s the thing of it. It’s really good.
The show offers up the roots of tap as an African-American art form, and salutes Bill “Bojangles” Robinson with an absolutely inspiring number featuring his famously intricate stair dance projected on a screen, while downstage Boyer matches him step for step. Other tap greats appearing on film during the evening include Jimmy Slyde, Gregory Hines, and Derick Grant, as the audience is gently educated not only on the early years, but on the renaissance of tap dancing in the 1980s.
This ensemble is enjoying its 21st production, and hosts a benefit this summer on June 23. Kudos to all for providing an interesting, exciting, and educational evening.
Tap: An Evening of Rhythm will hold performances at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall on Friday, May 4, at 7:30 PM, Saturday, May 5, at 2 and 7:30 PM, and Sunday, May 6, at 2 PM. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ourfabulousvarietyshow.org.