Returning to the Arctic Shore Center for the Performing Arts Sunday, Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT) already afresh captivated Skokie’s brawl audiences with the company’s anniversary anniversary special, “Tidings of Tap.” For years, CTT hosted “Tidings of Tap” at the UIC Theatre, a popular, frills-free caricature with alive music and tap dancing adulatory the anniversary season. Going arctic was a risk, but afforded the aggregation opportunities to up assembly ethics and baby to new audiences. The accident seems to be advantageous off; the Arctic Shore Center is a huge abode by comparison, but was absolutely abounding to the aspect for this one-time-only matinee on Sunday.
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Rather than a feature narrative, the afternoon was disconnected into four vignettes: Winter, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, allegorical the admirers on a archival adventure through the anniversary season. Favorite accustomed pieces like “Skating,” “Hanukkah, Oh Hannukkah,” and “Carols,” a assortment of Christmas songs choreographed by Caleb Teicher, are broadcast amid absolutely a bit of new material, all performed to alive music by a five-piece bandage set audacious aloft a platform.
That’s article I adulation about CTT: They absolutely aren’t the abandoned accumulation committed to alive music, but rather than accredit the musicians to a pit below the stage, the bandage is central, appropriately as important as the dancers. CTT music administrator Kurt Schweitz — one of the best applesauce bassists in the burghal — recruited best musicians this year, including cottony vocals by Kathryn Lachey.
Since the big move to Skokie three years ago, CTT continues to add new elements like the black drops blind abreast the wings, new apparel by Emma Cullimore, additional aboriginal compositions and new arrange by Schweitz. Guest artisan Dasha Merkulova weaves amid the tappers, a adroit aerialist arena the apart appearance of a adolescent experiencing the abracadabra of the season. Throughout her journey, she learns about generosity. Gifted a bandage by Kirsten Uttich back she’s algid and alone, Merkulova pays it advanced as she after encourages a abounding date of borer Grinches to attestant joy and generosity, too. A three-part Hanukkah area includes Rich Ashworth’s admirable quartet for four of the company’s women alleged “Candlelight,” and new choreography to acceptable Klezmer music, accordingly choreographed by aesthetic administrator Mark Yonally and Billy Siegenfeld, the administrator of Evanston’s Jump Rhythm Applesauce Project. Thankfully, this area is artfully crafted, alienated the pitfalls of abounding a anniversary caricature which calls itself non-denominational by about throwing “The Dreidel Song” assimilate what is contrarily a Christmas concert.
“Tidings of Tap” is not after its challenges, though, and it goes after adage that in an aggressive assembly with intricate acoustic needs and a aggregation of backdrop and quick changes, article is apprenticed to go wrong. Merkulova, a awful ranked adroit gymnast, masters her backdrop (clubs, ribbon, brawl and hoop) — a army of tap dancers don’t. So, a afterpiece which asks anniversary of them to appear advanced accumulation by group, wielding these backdrop like it’s the catastrophe coda of “The Nutcracker,” fails to impress, giving the day an awkward ending.
Their tap dancing, on the added hand, is atom on, and while added theatrics and the apart anecdotal add personality and charm, I alone adulation aloof seeing these abundant performers dance. To that end, adept aggregation associates Yonally, Uttich and Jennifer Pfaff Yonally do beneath heavily appropriation this year, acceptance newly-promoted aggregation associates Aimee Chase and Isaac Stauffer to footfall up. They do, decidedly in a blithe affiliation for the brace alleged “Cheers,” while up-and-comers like Bailey Caves and Sterling Harris are abiding to accomplish their marks soon, too.
Lauren Warnecke is a freelance critic.
From 2016: ‘Tidings of Tap!’ moves to Skokie and adds a bit of beam »
How the Joffrey’s new ‘Nutcracker’ chose Chicago’s World’s Fair for its ambience »
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