Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Also see Jeffrey's review of Edgar & Emily
Presented on an impressive gold platform with steps encased in glittery, beaded curtains, the scenic design foreshadows a dazzling spectacle and a "step" back in time. And from the moment the cast members appear, one by one, donning trench coats and briefcases, to the very end, the show never disappoints. Well conceived and directed by Kevin Black and musical director Ben Bagby, this 90-minute musical may not have a book, but a book isn't needed to tell this story; with carefully chosen theatrical songs and numbers, supporting projections by Jose-Luis Ramos, and just enough lines and acting to plug you into the scenes, nearly everything works cohesively to make Time Step the tap-dancing showcase that it's intended to be.
Collaborating on choreography, Ashley Bachner, McKayla Cephas, Alessandra Torres, Allison C. Scott (also a performer during select performances), and Sebastian Goldberg (featured performer) come together to give the audience a delicious taste of clogging, the European jig, African rhythms, and other timed dances to exhibit time step, a spontaneous melding of these different styles that was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Although the dancers vary in execution and the scenes with the props don't succeed as well as the others, everyone is competent enough, jubilant enough, and energetic enough to keep the momentum going. Goldberg leads the pack as a superior performer in sporadic solos, but other stand-out dancing displays come from Ariel Seidman-Wright (a skillful fiddler), spunky Nathaniel J. Washington, and Mackenzie Cutcliffe. These dancers traverse various genres almost without a hitch; although happy faces and exuberance work well for most dance styles, they don't work for flamenco's more serious and somber tones.
Luckily, singers Sandra Marante and Matthew Staley authenticate the latin sounds and grooves with their solid rendition of Besame Mucho. In spite of the fact that Time Step centers on dancing, Marante and Staley's solo and duo contributions make for a well-rounded production that is chock full of pizzazz. Jumping from style to style, the singers take the trips with ease, going from "Danny Boy" to Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling" without any hiccups. While Marante's vocals do outshine Staley's, they are both commendable.
Time Step is a great melding of multiple streams of artistry, and a fabulous demonstration of skill and athletic ability. Just navigating the intricate choreography on the narrow steps of the stage alone is a formidable feat, but it is also clear that a lot of hard work and drive goes into every aspect of the show. It all pays off in this amusing and charming musical.
Time Step, through May 6th, 2018, at Stage Door Theatre, 8036 West Sample Road, Coral Springs FL. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm and Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. For tickets and information please call 954-344-776 or visit www.stagedoorfl.org.