Leonard Soloway, Bud Martin, Riki Kane Larimer, Jeff Wolk
Tappin’ Thru Life
Introducing The Manzari Brothers
Sherrie Maricle and The Diva Jazz Orchestra
New World Stages
340 West 50th Street
NY, NY 10019
Scenic Design: Tobin Ost
Costume Design: T. Tyler Stumpf
Lighting Design: Michael Gilliam
Projection Design: Darrel Maloney
Sound Design: Michael Hahn
Production Management: Juniper Street Productions Inc.
Press Representative: Keith Sherman & Associates
Casting: Stuart Howard & Paul Hardt
Company Manager: Judith Drasner
Production Stage Manager: Melanie T. Morgan
Music Director: Sherrie Maricle
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 21, 2016 Matinee
Maurice Hines is an electrified, ebullient raconteur, dancer, singer, and showman. His Tappin’ thru Life, at New World Stages, performed without intermission, featured Mr. Hines onstage almost throughout the show. Through extraordinary projections, by Darrel Maloney, and upbeat-downbeat life stories, Mr. Hines drew the audience in, to 1940’s New York and forward, sharing his adventures and tribulations in the music business, family relationships, and national tours, when racial restrictions were rampant. Maurice began tap dancing at the age of five, and soon his performing family became known as Hines, Hines, and Dad, with Maurice, renowned younger brother, Gregory, and their father, also named Maurice. Adorable photos of young tap dancers, the Hines brothers, flashed on both sides of the stage, framing Sherrie Maricle and The Diva Jazz Orchestra. This all-female, nine-piece band played tunes for Maurice’s songs, dances, and remembrances, as well as music for guest performers in several interludes, while Maurice swiftly changed his snazzy suits. Numerous band members played rambunctious solos, straight from mid-century clubs and stages, evocative of Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. The Manzari Brothers, magnetic, athletic young men who tap up a storm, were the featured stars of the interludes, when the piano, sax, or drum – led solos took a break. This one-act show could easily have been two acts, as its momentum was as rapid as an uptown subway to the Cotton Club.
During Mr. Hines’ vivacious, impassioned monologue, he shared background anecdotes about making a Broadway tapping debut with Gregory, in the 1954 The Girl in Pink Tights, as his first dance teacher, Henry LeTang, patterned tap duos for the young Hines kids, similar to those of the Nicholas Brothers, who were then decades older. Hines gave us a peek into his opening act dances (even illustrating a few) for Gypsy Rose Lee and Lionel Hampton. The “Hines, Hines, and Dad” tours landed on television, like The Tonight Show and The Pearl Bailey Show. When Hines later went solo on tour, he performed the role of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. As Mr. Hines would mention a show, projections would change, some music might be added, and he might break into song or dance or both. On a particularly upbeat tale about his movie role in The Cotton Club, Mr. Hines seemed to glow in one of his fondest memories. In the not so fond memories, one of which painfully related blatant racial discrimination at restaurants and clubs, particularly on tour, the audience was gripped. That’s when Mr. Hines quietly sang “Smile though your heart is aching…”. Other not so fond memories related to clashes and silences between the once-so-close brothers, Gregory and Maurice, and Maurice’s longtime, yearning regrets. Gregory died of cancer in 2003.
Mr. Hines, at 72, is in fantastic shape, tapping with Leo Manzari and John Manzari, creating sparkling, syncopated rhythms in their outstanding choreography. Another young, rising tap star, Dario Natarelli, wowed the crowd when he joined this tapping extravaganza. It should also be mentioned that Mr. Hines’ vocal turns were often spellbinding, as he sings standards like “Luck Be a Lady” and “I’ve Never Been In Love Before”, both from Guys and Dolls. Sherrie Maricle, Music Director and drummer, participated in affectionate, humorous asides as well as a stunning percussion solo. Other band members, Liesl Whitaker and Barbara Laronga on trumpet, Sara Jacovino on trombone, Alexa Tarantino, Roxy Coss, and Lauren Sevian on saxophones, Jackie Warren on piano, and Amy Shook on bass, performed in rhythmic solo, duo, trio, and ensemble arrangements. Tobin Ost’s scenic design, with Michael Gilliam’s lighting and Michael Hahn’s sound, added some flashy luminosity, nightclub style. T. Tyler Stumpf, costume designer, provided picture perfect black-white suits for all the tapping gentlemen. Jeff Calhoun, director of this show, expertly wove Mr. Hines’ historical content through rambunctious song and dance routines. Kudos to Maurice Hines and cast for such a lovely, Sunday afternoon.
Maurice Hines Dances in
"Maurice Hines Tappin' Thru Life"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg
Maurice Hines, Leo Manzari, John Manzari
in "Maurice Hines Tappin' Thru Life"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg