Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Maurice Hines Is Tappin' Thru Life
"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 menincluding the larger instruments such as tenor and baritone sax.