TAPPIN' THRU LIFE
February 19, 2016
No one can ever call the showman Maurice Hines shy. A member of the formidable tap and song family, Hines, Hines and Dad, the stage was his home from adolescence to adulthood. Less famous than his brother Gregory Hines, Maurice makes his own name in musicals and toured of his own shows.
“Tappin’ Thru Life” is a musical autobiography that tracks Maurice Hines’ entertainment upbringing from boyhood to Gregory’s untimely death. Adorable photos of the young brothers in Harlem, dressed to the nines and turning heads at every corner, assist the affable Maurice spin an easy tale of brotherly love, competition, separation and reconciliation.
An earthy tap-dancer, Maurice can still tap out some rhythmically involved figures and concoction of percussive sounds. But what he really loves is singing. Acting out a song and punctuating lyrics with intermittent taps, he makes a point about the stylish roots of tap in vaudeville.
Maurice gets a little help from the Manzari Brothers who dazzle with their Nicholas Brothers routine and uninhibited energy. They take on the athletics leaving the style to Maurice. Directed by another show-time veteran Jeff Calhoun, Mr. Hines keeps the action clipping along, only slipping now and again into sentimentality. Primarily it’s a historic periscope magnifying a time when people couldn’t resist entertainers who loved to sing, dance, act, tell jokes to keep an audience amused all night long.
Sherrie Maricle and The Diva Jazz Orchestra (yes indeed, it’s a gal band) back up the action, and there’s a sweet nod to the next generation of talented performers when Devin and Julia Ruth, Dario Natarelli, and child prodigy, Luke Spring hit the stage at New World Stages.
EYE ON THE ARTS NY -- Celia Ipiotis