By apropst on Jan 13, 2016 | In ATW Reviews
Maurice Hines in Tappin’ Thru Life
Maurice Hines knows how to charm from the stage. It’s little wonder. He’s been performing for nearly six decades now thanks to a career that began when he was still a kid.
In his new show, Tappin’ Thru Life, which has just opened at New World Stages, Hines recounts some of the highs of his life as well as some of the lows, and along the way he offers up tunes that he associates with his long career or important moments in his life. For instance, when he remembers how his father atoned to his mother after a fight, Hines says his dad sang “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” and then, Hines delivers it.
To segue into “Honeysuckle Rose,” Hines tells theatergoers that he had once told Lena Horne that he would pay tribute to her in a show by singing it, and with that, he dives into a jazzy rendition of the Fats Waller classic. This tune is preceded by Hines’ rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s pungently ironic “Smile,” which follows a troubling tale that he shares about an ugly encounter with racism that he and his brother, the late Gregory Hines, had when they were performing in Las Vegas when they were teenagers.
The coupling of the two diverging anecdotes and numbers gives an indication of how Hines ambles through his life story during the course of the show, which has been directed with smoothness by Jeff Calhoun. Oftentimes resembles the sort of loosely constructed one-man performance one might find in a cabaret venue.
Tappin’, however, plays on a larger scale. To begin there’s a handsome two-tiered set from Tobin Ost, who also provides two sliding panels outfitted with different sized panes that become the perfect canvases for Darrel Maloney’s projection design.
Further setting the show apart from cabaret is Hines’ backing, not just some small three to five piece combo, but a thrillingly brassy nine-piece ensemble: Sherrie Maricle and The Diva Jazz Orchestra. Further, Hines also gets some help in the tap department. He performs a few marvelous routines, with style, skill and grace belying his age (72), but as if to pay tribute to his early days working, he’s joined by the remarkable team of The Manzari Brothers, John and Leo, two seeming twentysomethings who are virtuosos of the form.
Hines also turns the spotlight over to even younger performers: Luke Spring, Dario Natarelli, and Devin and Julia Ruth who get their turn in the spotlight at alternating performances. Ultimately, the headliner needs only his innate charm to capture audiences’ hearts, but for any holdouts, these other dancers cinch the deal.
---- Andy Propst
Tappin Thru Life plays at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street). For more information and tickets, visit: mauricehines.com.
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