Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Tap Dance Christmas Carol

The Broadway Performance Hall
December 15 - 23, 2006
For Tickets: Ticket Window

Surely you have been told about Charles Dickens, the famous writer notorious for his classical literature, but did you also know he is a musical playwright? This premise opens up A Tap Dance Christmas Carol, a morphing production now in its 7th year of annual Christmas Cheer. This show finds its roots in the minds and feet of Cheryl Johnson and Anthony Peters, renowned tap dancers, owners of the Johnson & Peters Tap Studio in Greenlake, and directors, choreographers, and stars of this show. This year’s production continues their tradition of intriguing dance, unique twists on the classic tale, a jazzy orchestra, and an overall ambience of warmth, humor and Christmas spirit.

The cool, bluesy and upbeat arrangements from the talented three piece orchestra (directed by Clayton Murray) weave their way through solo performances, scene changes, and dance after dance in their intimate role with the action onstage. The intricate involvement of the orchestra onstage and in the show helps to compliment the feelings and emotions expressed by the characters. Instruments even take center stage to stimulate the audience with unique arrangements of classic favorites, making the show not only a musical, but a mini concert of three very talented musicians.

With the band occupying upstage and a great deal of action and dance tapping through the foreground, a minimal set by Seattle Scenic Studios is used to compliment the emphasis on lighting design by Richard Schaefer. The crafty use of lighting shows detailed changes from narration to action, and specifically depicts atmospheric emotion, from warm, as in the Cratchit household, to cool, as in the solo orchestra numbers throughout the show, to dark and deadly in the graveyard. Each skillfully lighted moment helps to aid in the development of plot, character and atmosphere.

From the moment the first actor speaks, humor becomes a central motif. Through overly corny jokes (specifically a traditional reference to Geico auto Insurance), script writing (playing off the original Dickens’ story), and even costume design (a light up tux at the top of the 2nd act) a lighter, comedic attitude is taken towards the story.

Tying the show together is the beautiful footwork of the tap dancers as they perform newly choreographed pieces and old classics, modified and seasoned from years past. Besides the shear enjoyment of the art of tap, its role went beyond this to take on specific roles in the show. Whenever Ebenezia Scrooge was destined to learn something from the ghosts, it was through joining the visions in dance. It is also through dance that she experienced the truth of Christmas by sharing a gorgeous, moving tap piece with her niece, Frieda (Jessie Sawyers). A Tap Dance Christmas Carol offers a unique way to experience the holidays, through the 23rd,with a cast of talented and energetic tappers.

Review By Rick Skyler

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