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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Maurice Hines Is Tappin' Thru Life

Also see Susan's reviews of The King and I and Appropriate


Maurice Hines
Maurice Hines was 5 years old when he began studying tap dance; he and his younger brother Gregory (who died in 2003) began their professional careers as a team a few years later. Maurice will celebrate his 70th birthday in December, and he still has the charisma and flash that will keep an audience satisfied.

"It's cold outside but it's hot in here, baby!" Maurice says in greeting early in Maurice Hines Is Tappin' Thru Life, his autobiographical performance now onstage in the Kreeger Theater at Arena Stage in Washington. The 95-minute show isn't only about him, to be sure: Maurice recounts stories of his parents and brother, and showcases newer practitioners of the art of tap, along with a noteworthy nine-piece orchestra.

What a remarkable show-biz education Maurice has had! He describes how he and his brother performed with Judy Garland, and their excitement at meeting stars including Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra. (He also offers some sobering reminders of segregation in Las Vegas during the 1950s.) He talks about how Johnny Carson "made our career" when he, Gregory, and their father performed as "Hines, Hines, and Dad." He swings through a wide variety of songs that includes both Lerner and Loewe's "Get Me to the Church on Time" and Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With."

In keeping with the tradition of brothers performing tap routines together, Maurice hosts two talented sets of brothers from Washington during the show. John and Leo Manzeri made a dazzling stage debut with Maurice a few years ago in Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies, and the dexterity and artistry of their moves have grown exponentially. The delightful surprises of this production are Max and Sam Heimowitz, 13-year-old twins with great presence and a bright future ahead of them.

Maurice and his director, Jeff Calhoun, had the inspired idea of bringing in the DIVA Jazz Orchestra to complement the dancers. This all-woman ensemble, led by drummer Dr. Sherrie Maricle, proves decisively that women can swing a tune as intensely and with as much spirit as men—including the larger instruments such as tenor and baritone sax.

Arena Stage
Maurice Hines Is Tappin' Thru Life
November 15th - December 29th
Written and choreographed by Maurice Hines
Performers: Maurice Hines, John Manzari, Leo Manzari, Max Heimowitz, Sam Heimowitz
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Music director: Dr. Sherrie Maricle
Kreeger Theater, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater Sixth and Maine Avenues SW, Washington, DC Ticket Information: 202-488-3300 or www.arenastage.org


Photo: Teresa Wood


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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