Delaware Theatre Company perfectly kicks off its 37th season with Tappin’ Thru Life. A life as fascinating as Tony Nominated Maurice Hines’ deserves to be told in this theatrical manner. Tony-Award winning Broadway director Jeff Calhoun facilitates this bombastic show, reminiscent of both the days of vaudeville and the Golden Age of Broadway simultaneously. With incredible tap dancing sprinkled in between impressive name-dropping performance stories and emotional personal anecdotes, writer and lead performer Maurice Hines honors both his family and music greats Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and many more. His charming ability for storytelling in infectious; anyone who can talk/sing/dance on stage for 90 minutes straight is more than impressive.
While most of the show is an encaptivating Hines, the overall ensemble helps to bump this show up a notch. Tapping twins the Manzari Brothers are a reincarnation of the Hines Brothers childhood act. Nine-year-old tap prodigy Jake Sweeney has nothing but sheer joy on his face as he joins the brothers on stage. These three received standing ovations in the middle of the show, and they were much deserved. Add in the incomparable Diva Jazz Orchestra (led by Music Director and Drummer Dr. Sherrie Maricle) as the final touch and it’s a knockout. Music is so important to the make-up of this show and the Divas nail it.
The design helps Hines tell his personal story. Costume Designer T. Tyler Stumpf sets the language of the time period with beautiful suits for the gentlemen.
Scenic Designer Tobin Ost has worked with Calhoun on a lot of his Broadway credits (Newsies, Jekyll and Hyde, Bonnie and Clyde) and that experience shows. The visually stimulating angular set creates layers for the band and entrances for the performers. Ost creates fly on panels converted by videos and projections by Darrel Maloney, transforming Hines’ personal photos onstage in an innovative way.
Lights by Michael Gilliam are exactly what this performance needs with delightful buttons and colorful additions to the already engrossing numbers.
Everyone on that stage is having a blast, so everyone in the audience follows suit. If you want a night of entertainment, tap your way over to the Delaware Theatre Company to watch the talented Maurice Hines.
Running Time: Approximately 80 minutes, with no intermission.
Maurice Hines in Tappin’ Thru Life runs through October 11, 2015 at Delaware Theatre Company – 200 Water Street, in Wilmington, DE. For tickets, call the box office at (302) 594-1100, or purchase them online.
‘Tappin’ Thru Time with a Legend: An Interview with Maurice Hines’ by Joel Markowitz.