FAMILY SHOW: FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW: Review by Gina Schlagel
As a child of the ‘80s and former music industry employee, I’ve been lucky enough to have seen and heard more concerts and shows than I can remember – from Aerosmith and Metallica to Madonna and Michael Jackson (OK, I know I’m dating myself here but I’m trying to make a point). Of all the loud, wild, special effects-laden blockbuster concerts and talents I’ve seen… one of the best was just last weekend. With my 7-year old daughter. At a children’s theater. Featuring tap dancing. TAP DANCING. Yes, TAP DANCING! You read that right!
This entertainment came in the form of Rhythmic Circus’s FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW!, currently wowing audiences of all ages in their New York premiere on the New Victory Theater stage.
I don’t know about you, but before last week, when I heard the phrase “tap dancing”, I pictured leotard-clad girls in dancing school. No more! The four dancers of Rhythmic Circus have me looking at tap dancing in a whole new way. Featuring the talented seven-piece live band Root City, beatboxing, and original music, lyrics and choreography, this show was truly an unexpected treat. From the opening number to the last, this hour-long production takes kids and adults through a funk-filled journey of laughter, amazement and entertainment.
Our favorite number was a percussive chair routine, where two of the dancers wax nostalgic on their early days in “Study Hall” – demonstrating for us how they cured their boredom by one-upping each other by using their chairs as instruments. Hilarity ensues as the dancers are then joined by Aaron “Heatbox” Heaton, whose beatboxing talents only add to the fun and friendly competition.
Songs span all genres, from fast-paced old-school hip-hop to dreamy ballads and even a salsa number. “Battle” is an old-school throwdown featuring Beatbox vs. Tap Dance. “Dream Song” features a guitar solo and “body percussion” – again, not the typical off-Broadway show you’d expect. Culminating in a circus-themed finale that had the ENTIRE theater on their feet dancing, cheering, and singing along, it truly was a memorable night. If you ever wanted to show your kids that their tap dancing lessons can lead to amazing things, take them to see FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW!
Each of the four young dancers have their own unique style, but they all complement each other perfectly. One thing they have in common that is obvious throughout every number: their love of tap dance. I couldn’t help thinking I was watching four dancers who lived and breathed dance and would be lost without it. Their love of dance came across in the sheer joy and exuberance in their faces and movements. Kaleena Miller, the only female of the group, has a more studied, controlled yet effortless style, while the other dancers have what I can only describe as a bit more “wild” tendencies. Dancers Nick Bowman (also Executive Director), Galen Higgins, Ricci Milan (also Artistic Director) complement Miller’s graceful yet funky moves with their own explosive, animated style. FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW! is tap on turbo!
This award-winning Minneapolis-based company premiered FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW! in 2008 and has gone on to tour both nationally and internationally.
My daughter really loved this show. We couldn’t help watching a little boy in the balcony who kept catching our eye. He was so into the show – copying the dancers’ moves and just literally jumping with joy. He was even beatboxing along with the performers. There was an older couple behind us who were really into it too.
FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW! is truly a show for all ages and interests. There are fun things to before the show while waiting. In the gift shop area kids can do puzzles and draw, or try some tap dancing steps guided by one of the New Victory staffers. There’s a small snack bar with reasonably priced water, candy and snacks available, and after the show there is even a text-based scavenger hunt around the theater. One of my favorite amenities was the use of free lockers to store bulky winter coats during the show.
Before or after the show, you can grab a bite, shop or sightsee. The theater is right on 42nd Street, literally in the middle of all the action of Times Square. Before the show we had delicious burgers at Five Napkins, just a short walk away before the show. After the show, we stopped to take a photo with some costumed characters, and ended the night with a nostalgic photo in front of the building in which I worked many years ago and where my love of music and concerts began – MTV Networks. Guess we kind of came full circle during our family night out in Times Square – in more ways than one!
With performances through 12/1, and a running time of 60 minutes, FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW! is recommended for ages 6 and older. Full-priced tickets start at just $14. Purchase tickets online at http://www.newvictory.org or by phone at 646-223-3010.
More info on FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW!:
Note: The New Victory Theater’s website warns “Kids under the recommended age may be sensitive to the volume.” I have to say it was very loud so keep that in mind if bringing very young children or grandparents along. I thought it was really loud but my daughter told me I was crazy.