Luke Spring Joins Maurice Hines in 'TAPPIN' THRU LIFE' at The Wallis, Now thru 5/24
The Wallis Center for the Performing Arts presents Maurice Hines is Tappin' Thru Life for 19 performances only from today, May 9 - 24, 2014 in the Bram Goldsmith Theater. Maurice Hines, a Tony Award nominee, is a celebrated dancer, choreographer, director, and singer, whose impressive career spans over 40 years. Directed by Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun (Broadway's Newsies and Grey Gardens), Maurice Hines is Tappin' Thru Life features D.C.'s dynamic tap-dancing duo, the Manzari Brothers, 11-year old tapping phenomenon Luke Spring, as well as the all-female, nine-piece big band, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra.
Hines, who started performing at five years old, brings the history of American tap to life and pays tribute to his brother Gregory and the singers who inspired him, from Frank Sinatra to Lena Horne. In a nod to the future of tap, Hines showcases the talents of the D.C. tap dancing duo, John and Leo Manzari, now 21 and 18 respectively, who reunite with their mentor Hines after their whirlwind run performing alongside him in Arena Stage's production of Sophisticated Ladies, which earned each brother a Helen Hayes Award nomination. Rounding out the cast of performers is 11-year-old tapping phenomenon Luke Spring who wowed TV audiences on the "Ellen" show at 7 years old and also was featured in the new Broadway production of A Christmas Story. This young talent embodies the next generation of tapping talent along with his Manzari Brother co-stars.
Hines will be backed by nine members of the internationally renowned DIVA Jazz Orchestra, an all-female powerhouse ensemble. Voted one of the best big bands in the world by DownBeat magazine, DIVA is led by music director, drummer and longtime Hines collaborator Sherrie Maricle and features Karen Hammack (piano) Lori Stuntz (trombone) Carol Chaikin (baritone sax), Nedra Wheeler (acoustic bass) and Glenda Smith (lead trumpet), along with Scheila Gonzales (lead alto saxophone) Barbara Laronga (trumpet) and Sharon Hirata (tenor saxophone).
Director, Jeff Calhoun says, "Having begun my career at the age of 16, tap dancing with Ann Miller, you can imagine what an honor it is to be working with Maurice Hines. Maurice is not only one of the finest song and dance men of our time, but his firsthand experiences with American racism of the 50s and his hobnobbing with the likes of Pearl Bailey, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Marlene Dietrich, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra (just to name a few) make him a treasure raconteur. He is that rare breed whose tongue is as facile as his tapping feet. Maurice is a first-rate life-enhancing entertainer."
Maurice Hines adds, "This show started with my wanting to celebrate my brother, Gregory. I read an article on tap dance a few years ago and his name wasn't mentioned - so wrong! But now I get the change t honor properly what a fabulous tap dancer he was. This show also gives me the opportunity to thank the fantastically effortless performers who influenced me, from Judy Garland to Lena Horne to Nat King Cole."
Hines dedicates this show to his mother, Alma, who he speaks of as "a truly remarkable lady who supported and nurtured our love of performing. Whenever I am on stage, I always follow the advice she told Greg and I, 'No matter what you do on stage and in life, always do it with class!'"
Photo by Teresa Wood.