Tap Dancing Shows are the hot ticket for 2017
Tap dance is a very happy dance form. You rarely see a sad tap dancer. It just has that effect on people. So it is good news in London that over the next few months visitors and guests on theatre breaks will have several chances to enjoy some happy-go-lucky tap dancing!
42nd Street – THE tap dancing show
When you think of tap dancing, one of the first images that pops into your head is the line of girls all crashing away in perfect unison.
42nd Street comes to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 20 March 2017
If you haven’t seen it, it is a song and dance show about putting on a song and dance show – the classic dream fable of Broadway: fresh-faced Peggy, from Smalltownsville, is just another face in the chorus line until the leading lady gets injured. Several iconic songs later We’re In The Money, Lullaby of Broadway, Shuffle Off To Buffalo, Dames, I Only Have Eyes For You and 42nd Streetand her dreams come true!
But lets cut to the chase. The show is choreographed by three-time Tony-nominated choreographer, Randy Skinner, whose relationship with the dance routine’s in 42nd Street began in 1980 when Gower Champion, the original choreographer for the musical, asked him to be dance assistant on 42nd Street in 1980.
Skinner describes his style as “Hollywood tap”. As with many in the industry, Fred Astaire was a role model and, like Astaire, his routines can be recognised by the amount of travel inherent in the steps – filling the stage with movement and giving the dances that trademark fluidity that we all still enjoy today.
Skinner is a very spritely 64 years old and still choreographs by doing the steps himself. In an interview with Broadwayworld.com he describes his method: “to create every step and be able to dance it full out myself. I want to know how it feels inside my body and to know if it works or not.”
He also still teaches regularly at Steps on Broadway, passing on his knowledge and love of the dance form to all levels of tap dancer.
Skinner started dancing at the age of 4 but, for many of us, tap dance is something we took up later in life and there are adult tap dance classes taking place evey night of the week, up and down the country. No wonder then, that the second tap dance show to come to London in 2017 will be Stepping Out.
Stepping Out – Tap Dance Class Comedy
Stepping Out came to London’s West End in 1984 – the same year as 42nd Street (with a young Katherine Zeta-Jones in the chorus line). In Richard Harris’s comedy a class of adult tap dancers enter a local tap dance competition but, as their dancing improves, their differing personalities start to clash as the nearer to the competition they get.
The choreography for Stepping Out is provided by Tim Jackson who is multi-talented and just as at home in the orchestra pit as on his pins.
The tap dancing in Stepping Out is rather more functional than the dancing in 42nd Street. Here it provides a backdrop for the comedy highlights rather than the highlights themselves and anyone who has ever attended a beginners tap dance class will enjoy the inherent comedy of the situation.
More Tap Dance in London
But the tap dancing in London does not stop there. Although tap makes a quick appearance in the newly opened Half A Sixpence, if you are looking for some scene stealing tap then look no further than An American in Paris.
(Ah the I Got Rhythm sequence – who can forget the film starring Gene Kelly and, with Lesley Caron, they were magic) Choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon, has already won the Tony® Award for Best Choreography when the show was in New York, so we should be in for a treat when it comes to London in March 2017!
It will be interesting to see the differing styles in choreography between 42nd Street and An American in Paris when the both arrive, with Wheeldon’s and Skinner’s different strengths and approaches. They come from different backgrounds, but still they have the same enjoyment and enthusiasm for dance – of all forms: not just tap.
So I hope that 2017 heralds a new era for tap. It has been too long since Top Hat won 3 Laurence Olivier awards including Best New Musical, and WINNER of the Evening Standard ‘Best Night Out’ award in 2013.
So hop, step and shuffle your way to London next year for London’s truly memorable Tap Dancing season: you won’t regret it!