Maurice Hines is “Old School”, and this is a good thing. Back in the day as a performer was growing up, his parents would insist that their little prodigy learn every facet of show business that they could. Thus you had an entire generation of performers that could act, sing, dance, play an instrument and do comedy (on slow nights they probably sold popcorn and candy during the intermission).
It was from this early training that such greats as Maurice and Gregory Hines, Judy Garland, Red Skelton, James Cagney, George Jessel and Fred Astaire (to name a few) learned their craft. Once on the road this raw talent was polished until it gleamed. It was a hard life, but a good life. This is why Cleveland Play House’s production of “Maurice Hines is Tappin’ thru Life” is such a treat.
Over the course of the show he gives a running dialog about what it was like to grow up as a black performer and the challenges he and his family faced and how close his family was to one another. He tells very good stories…some comical…some poignant. He sings some of the great standards that we still remember the words to…and he dances amazingly well for a seventy-one year old youngster. Fact is… he dances as good as most twenty-one year olds. In short, “Tappin’ thru Life” is a marvelous journey that spans the career of two of the greatest dancers to ever to hit the boards. Before you know it, the ninety minutes have flown by and you are left wishing for more. That is the mark of a great show.
Maurice also knows where to find good talent. Backing him up is the all female nine member “Diva Jazz Orchestra” with Drummer and Musical Director Dr. Sherrie Maricle, Acoustic Bass Amy Shook (who did an outstanding job with Maurice on “Honeysuckle Rose”), Piano Jackie Warren, Trombone Lauren Eisenreich, Lead Trumpet Barbara Laronga, Second Trumpet Theresa May, Tenor Saxophone Jenny Hill, Alto Saxophone Leigh Pilzer and Baritone Saxophone Bettyjeane Quimby. This group is not shy about playing. They really rock the joint.
Also joining him are the Manzari Brothers John and Leo who show some of the wildest tap routines since the Nicholas Brothers. Joining them for her own time on stage is Grace Cannady who is a twelve year old dancing phenomenon from Boston, Massachusetts who showed that she could keep up with the big boys.
The show is a tribute not only to his brother, Gregory Hines, but to all the great performers that passed through Maurice’s life. Names like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne and Judy Garland are all remembered through stories and song.
The crew for this show consisted of Jeff Calhoun, Director; Dr. Sherrie Maricle, Musical Director; Tobin Ost, Scenic Designer; T. Tyler Stumpf, Costume Designer; Michael Gilliam, Lighting Designer; Carl Casella, Sound Designer; Darrel Maloney, Projection Designer, Jennifer Matheson Collins, Stage Manager, Tom Humes, Assistant Stage Manager; Leigh Pilzer, Musical Orchestration and Music Preperation; Joshua Harris Liebert, Assistant Sound Designer, Darwin Gilmore, Assistant Projection Designer; Amanda Piccirillo, Spotlight Operator; Byron Brubaker, Run Crew and Jeffrey Van Curtis, Wardrobe Supervisor.
I wish to mention one last thing. Maurice Hines is a gentleman of the highest order. After the show, I went to get our car while my wife sat in the lobby (she is recovering from knee replacement surgery). As she sat there, Maurice and his three co-stars came by on their way to an after-show gala. As they passed, my wife applauded the four excellent performers. Maurice stopped, came over and shook my wife’s hand and took time to chat with her about his brother (which my wife adored). That, my friends, is a class act.
Prude Alert: This is a show you can safely take the entire family to see. Matter of fact, I insist that you do that as soon as possible.
Beefs and Flubs: With a cast this great there was never even a hint of a missed cue, word or step. It is as perfect as it gets.
Shooting From The Lip (In My Opinion): I am going to make a prediction that this show will be a sell-out for each and every performance so you had best get your ticket right now. Vegas meets Vaudeville with great stories, songs, dancing and music. This is the hot ticket of the year!
TalkBack: Tappin’ Thru Life
June 08, 2014
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
TalkBack: Tappin’ Thru Life
June 10, 2014
9:30 – 10:00 p.m.
Tappin’ Thru History June 15, 2014
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Tap dance is an original American art form, and Tappin’ star Maurice Hines is an American original, too. Join Hines and the cast of Tappin’ Thru Life to experience the rich and surprising history of this art form, and the artists taking it into the 21st century.
Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life will be in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare through June 29, 2014. Tickets range in price from $45-$72 each. Students under the age of 25 with a valid ID will be offered a special $15 ticket price. Tickets are also just $25 for anyone under age 35, sponsored by Scene Magazine. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com. Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call (216) 400-7027.
About Cleveland Play House
Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, Cleveland Play House has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. It has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,300 CPH productions. Cleveland Play House looks toward its centennial while performing in three state-of-the art venues at PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland.
The Ohio Arts Council helped fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. We also thank the residents of Cuyahoga County for supporting Cleveland Play House through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.