Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk

I sat next to Savion Glover’s mom during his 1994 performance in Chicago on Tap. When she wasn’t yelling “Go, Save!” she filled me in on the star’s youth: according to her he was beating out rhythms on pots and pans when he was one. But unlike other kids, Glover kept “‘da beat”–also the name of his character in the hit musical Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, which he choreographed. Alas, Glover is not playing that role in the road-show version of this Broadway phenom, arriving in Chicago this week; he’s been replaced by Derick K. Grant, a member of the original 1995 cast at the Joseph Papp Public Theater. By all reports Grant is terrific; indeed, the critical praise and accolades for this dance revue–four Tony awards in 1996–promise a fantastic experience. Educational, too: as conceived by Glover and director George C. Wolfe, the show informs us about the history of tap in America–and without a cast of thousands. Wolfe (who also staged the Broadway productions of Angels in America and Jelly’s Last Jam) has coordinated the efforts of designers, composers, and the nine cast members–five dancers, two percussionists, one singer, and a narrator–to create a sumptuous show reportedly more coherent and forceful than the original (which he also directed). The weak link, apparently, is Reg E. Gaines’s text, whose “labored lyricism,” Ben Brantley wrote in the New York Times, “can make delivering it an uphill battle.” Tuesday at 8 this week, then Tuesdays at 7:30, Wednesdays at 2 and 7:30, Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays at 8 (no show July 3), Saturdays at 2 and 8, and Sundays at 2 (and 7 on July 5) through July 12. At the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $17-$57. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets and information, 312-977-1710 for rates on groups of 20 or more.

–Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): performance still uncredited.