By Dale King
Producer/choreographer Kevin Black is rapidly becoming a master at cranking out jukebox musical theatre shows and Cirque-style acrobatic productions. Owner of Kevin Black Productions, a global entertainment company, he is responsible for devising such song-dominated presentations as: What’s New Pussycat? On the Radio, Pompadour, Tickling the Ivories, Imagine, Swing, Swing, Swing and Soul of Motor City.
For the show now playing at Broward Stage Door Theatre in Margate – where many of his offerings have debuted – Black, along with music director Ben Bagby, has taken a side step and created Time Step, a production that puts dance on the front burner. Not only does it feature some excellent hoofers giving it their all, but Black adds a top-notch vocal duo along with a couple of folks who add their own special brand of instrumentation.
This may be Black’s best show to date. While many of his previous presentations contained a smattering of choreography, Time Step takes the audience on a Terpsichorean tour, filling the stage with performers who tap, clog and otherwise slam shoe leather against the stage floor.
A time step, said Black, is “an unmistakable rhythmic tap combination that can be traced back to the vaudeville era. Dancers would repeat a ‘time step,’ usually for six measures of music, and then perform two measures of improvised steps choreographed in the moment to set the pace of the music.”
Black has assembled a team to showcase the foot-to-floor project. Along with participating choreographers Sebastian Goldberg and Allison C. Scott, he has cast Ariel Siedman-Wright, MacKenzie Cutcliffe, Nathaniel J. Washington and Stephen Potter to interpret everything from flamenco to stomp.
They are joined by Matt Staley, singer and guitarist, along with Sandra Marante, a young woman whose full, clear voice has been heard in musical theater shows (including Tickling the Ivories here at Broward Stage) as well as opera.
Time Step is a delight because you can jump in anywhere and start to enjoy it. The show rolls out tap dance numbers from classic Broadway shows like 42nd Street and Crazy for You. Throughout the production, the stage is alive with dances that recall the vaudeville era, Big Band stylings and moves representing European jig footwork, reel steps, clog and African rhythms. At times, the clatter of tap shoes or flamenco footwear echoes through Theater 2 at Broward Stage.
The combination works well because most shows don’t offer such a mix of dance, song and instruments.
Time Step kicks off – or steps off – with the ensemble performing “Lullaby of Broadway,” “42nd Street” and “I got Rhythm.” While the dance company prepares for its next scene, Staley, on guitar, and Marante sing “Besame Mucho.” The vocal pair returns following a hard-stomping flamenco set to settle things down with a soft, emotional rendition of “Danny Boy” and “Raglan Road.”
The show starts to take off when the singers and dancers perform “This Joint is Jumping,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “Jump, Jive and Wail” and “Tuxedo Junction.” Marante opens Act II singing “Dancing in the Street,” with the animated dance troupe all around. A couple of songs later comes the tune that made my night – “Orange Blossom Special,” with Siedman-Wright and Staley.
This show deserves a run that goes beyond its current May 6 closing date. Every dancer, singer and musician deserves kudos for pulling it together and keeping it going. The stage setting is simple and elegant, with lots of steps for the steppers. The outfits created by costume designer Jerry Sturdefant are chic and versatile.
Unless something changes, Time Step concludes with a May 6 matinee at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 West Sample Road, Margate. Tickets are $48 and available by calling 954 344-7765 or visiting www.stagedoorfl.org.