Categories

Maurice Hines Is Tappin’ Thru Life – Arena Stage

Jordan Wright
November 24th, 2013
Special to The Alexandria Times
 

(L-R) Max Heimowitz, John Manzari, Maurice Hines, Leo Manzari and Sam Heimowitz, with members of the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Photo by Teresa Wood.

(L-R) Max Heimowitz, John Manzari, Maurice Hines, Leo Manzari and Sam Heimowitz, with members of the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Photo by Teresa Wood.

On a stage flanked by Mondrian-like color block panels reminiscent of 1960’s television shows, a 9-piece all-female orchestra is cranking out the sounds of “Did You Do That”.  It’s an old tune by composer Stanley “Kay” Kaufman, an early creator, manager and conductor for the tap dancing brothers, Maurice and Gregory Hines.  Back in the day Kaufman founded the original Diva Jazz Orchestra and now a new crop backs up the Broadway legend in “Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life”.  The “Divas” as they are known in jazz circles from Lincoln Center to Birdland to the Apollo Theater, are smokin’ hot and Hines urges them on giving solo turns to noted sax player, Camille Thurman, trumpet player Liesl Whitaker and drummer, Dr. Sherrie Maricle, whom he likens quite accurately to Buddy Rich.  Right from the start the joint is jumpin’ and the show has just begun.

The projection panels begin to come alive with intimate family photos, memories of segregation and show biz moments frozen in time. Interspersed between nineteen musical numbers, Hines shares deeply personal stories and his encounters with megastars like Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Ol’ Blue Eyes – – the backstory to sixty-five years spent on stage and screen.

Maurice Hines in Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life - Photo by Teresa Wood

Maurice Hines in Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life – Photo by Teresa Wood.

Hines is captivating and stylish.  His movements are silken – – his delivery both hipster and sophisticate.  He does a modified “moonwalk”.  “I love this step.  It’s so sexy,” he croons.  And it is.  But I am waiting for him to tap.  Isn’t everyone? He speaks sotto voce about a recent injury.  Later he says, “You know I don’t tap much anymore.”  But still, he’s suave in a black and white Armani jacket.  And we’re totally enraptured by his shtick.  Who doesn’t dig a song stylist with crazy, exquisite phrasing?  The kind of phrasing that “owns” a song like Frank and Ella and Dino did.  Hines learned it and honed it from the greatest of the greats and it shows as he segues seamlessly from Fats Waller honky-tonk to sophisticated ditties by Cole Porter to ballads like “All the Way”.   In jazzed-up classic show tunes from Lerner and Lowe, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”, and “Get Me to the Church on Time”, in which Hines gives a thumbs up to DOMA, he lures the audience back to the 1950’s and nights at the Moulin Rouge, the first integrated nightclub in Vegas.  Some of the songs even use the familiar Nelson Riddle arrangements.  In “Luck Be a Lady” we are transported to Vegas sitting tableside with the Rat Pack at the Flamingo Hotel.

Finally in the eighteenth number Hines does a long spin, some rapid-fire tap moves, and a bit of soft shoe.  Not a lot, but perfectly executed.  And then the Manzari Brothers come on stage and dazzle, really stun with their electricity.  They are formidable as expected.  Sam and Max Heimowitz, young twins Hines recently discovered in DC, do a short turn with the virtuosos.  Now everyone is tapping and all of a sudden the evening feels like a moment in musical stage history.  Oh yes, Maurice.  You are too “mahvelous” for mere words.

(L-R) John and Leo Manzari in Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life - Photo by Teresa Wood.

(L-R) John and Leo Manzari in Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life – Photo by Teresa Wood.

Through December 29th at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St., SW, Washington, DC 20024.
For tickets and information call 202 484-0247 or visit www.ArenaStage.org.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  

  

  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.