Dance

We Will Tap You! – A Celebration of the Music of Queen

We Will Tap You! – A Celebration of the Music of Queen
We Will Tap You

Photo credit Josh Hawkins

Featuring more than a dozen classic Freddie Mercury and Queen songs, over 20 dancers, a squad of Chicago Spirit Brigade cheerleaders and more, Chicago Tap Theatre mounted its largest staging yet, a two hour tribute featuring the songs of Queen, for a one night only celebration during the final weekend of Pride month in Chicago. Surrendering to the camptastic good time, there was a little something for everyone to enjoy. The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus belted out “Somebody to Love,” guest performance artist, hipster bicyclist, Matt Roben did rambunctious two-wheeling tricks to the tune of “Bicycle” and a triumphant “Bohemian Rhapsody” featuring the Lakeside Pride Freedom Marching Band, closed the show. This world premiere, one night only gem was the brainchild conceived by Tap’s Artistic Director, Mark Yonally and Music Director Kurt Schweitz.  With ambitious choreography assembled from multiple choreographers and special guests, here is hoping Chicago Tap Theatre inaugural Pride showcase becomes an annual mounted Windy City tradition.

We Will Tap You

Photo credit Josh Hawkins

Starting with a dazzling array of rainbow colored lights and laser beams, as well as the swell of the “Flash Gordon” theme song, the show opened to a chorus line of a half dozen tappers, back lit, adorned in brightly colored costumes all designed by Emma Cullimore. Intermixed with the familiar ball changes and buffalo steps of traditional tap dancing, pelvic thrusts and hip grinds, establishing early on, this show is not your Grandmother’s tap. Lifted high above the troupe, host Mattrick Swayze, a lithe dancer and choreographer in his own right, sporting skin tight leggings and 6 inch stilettos!  After the opening number, Swayze entertained with a series of comical double entendres to appeal to this largely gay and primarily adult audience. “Tap it up, flip it, & rub it down” Swayze jested as he playfully and repeatedly spanked his spandex covered backside, as the applause from the audience flowed while “straight ally love washes all over me.” It was at this point the woman sitting next to me leaned over to her teenaged daughter and loudly whispered “Don’t tell your father any of the jokes you’ve heard here tonight.” Oh, the things you overhear while seated on the isle of the third row.

We Will Tap You

Photo credit Josh Hawkins

Mark Yonally’s regular company of dancers including Aimee Chase, Kirsten Uttich, Jennifer Pfaff Yonally and Isaac Stauffer appeared to be having as much fun center stage as the audience did while watching them. “Under Pressure” and “Nerdy Language” were whimsical delights. Yonally’s improvisational act two dancing soliloquy to “Another One Bites The Dust” was quite rousing. The ladies also had their own opportunity to rock out, perched on the top of speakers, while tapping and thrashing to “Stone Cold Crazy.” Next, garbed in black, yellow and white, like feverishly tapping worker bees, the most ambitious ariel tap to “Killer Queen” with equipment borrowed from C5. The ariel didn’t lift that high, as it is essential for the foot to come in contact to the ground to create the clicking tap sounds, but I give them kudos for trying something new. The core crew reassembled in its entirety during the mash-up “Don’t Stop Me Now/We Will Rock You.”

We Will Tap You

Photo credit Josh Hawkins

While the tenacious tappers were switching costumes off stage, Swayze and his back-up Swayzettes, Brian and Christopher, entertained with a sexy, three man bump and grind, to the titillated cat calls of the enthused audience. Clearly inspired by YouTube sensation and Britain’s Got Talent finalist dancer Yanis Marshall’s fierce and outrageously sultry choreography, the tantalizing trio, all clad in gravity defying heels and tiny booty shorts to tease the audience with their finest assests, pardon the pun, amused both the crowd and themselves. Chicago Tap pro Isaac Stauffer even joined in with their platform heeled routine, a butt slapping, high kicking, Sweet Charity “Big Spender” influenced ballet bar number set to the tune of “Fat Bottomed Girls.” The four tempting, remarkably flexible, and chiseled men displayed nothing of “fat” but clearly enjoyed spanking their “bottom” during this routine. Later, the Swayzettes entertainment with a three minute rap-riff to the Vanilla Ice song, “Ice-Ice Baby” while wearing little overalls and hot pink fishnets, then displayed “caftan realness” while Swayze wore a tunic assembled from two Pride Flags.

We Will Tap You

Photo credit Josh Hawkins

Not to be outdone, three drag queens also joined the proceedings. The aptly named Amber Valentine, Belmont Red and Velveeta Velour mostly strutted and posed for comic relief, while sets were being tweaked behind the closed curtains. Kurt Schweitz’s musical arrangements stayed true to Queen’s original vision while not drowning out the essential tappity-tap-tap of the dancer’s feet. Nick Davio’s vocals were a smooth sounding delight. Jimmy Jagos set design and Dustin Derry’s dazzling lighting design the largest and most impressive to date for Chicago Tap.  With more then 70 people on stage during the finale’s curtain call, Chicago Tap Theatre has a lot to be proud of.  A highly entertaining and engaging enterprise, ranging from intimate to outrageous, I will state again my most emphatic plea this concept becomes an annual tradition.

We Will Tap You

Photo credit Josh Hawkins

We Will Tap You A Celebration of the Music of Queen played at the Athenaeum Theatre June 25, 2015

We Will Tap You

Dance

Stephen is a huge theater aficionado for decades, who currently works in the realm of another field. He has been going to theater since I was 6 (first show Annie). He went to college at Purdue and considers himself an “idiot savant” when it comes to the entertainment industry. But no one values the entertainment dollar of a theater patron more than I!

More in Dance

May in NYC

Mark Your Calendar For May’s Events

Suzanna BowlingApril 24, 2017
Chita Rivera

Nominations For The Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography May 1st

Suzanna BowlingApril 20, 2017
Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen

Chelsea Clinton, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen, Nicky Hilton, Woody Allen at Youth America Grand Prix Gala

Suzanna BowlingApril 14, 2017
Andy Karl, Groundhogs Day

Andy Karl, Groundhog Day and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Win The Olivier Awards

Suzanna BowlingApril 9, 2017
Youth America Grand Prix

Youth America Grand Prix Ballet Competition Brings

Suzanna BowlingApril 5, 2017
Thodos Dance

Thodos Dance Chicago Full Circle – Alive and Thrive at 25

Stephen BestMarch 30, 2017
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – The Power and Precision Returns

Stephen BestMarch 28, 2017
Chita Rivera

Victory Dance Project Will Honor Broadway legend Chita Rivera With The Woman of Valor Award

Suzanna BowlingMarch 25, 2017
Easter

Mark Your Calendars For April’s Events

Suzanna BowlingMarch 24, 2017