It’s been a while since a tap-dancer headlined a TV special, so ABC gets points for adventurousness, and if “Savion Glover’s Nu York” doesn’t deliver the thrills of Glover’s live performances, it’s more due to the unique nature of his talent than anything else.
Glover, the co-creator and star of Broadway’s “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” co-exec produced the spec, so its failures and successes may fairly be laid at his door. At its weakest is the pointless chatter that links together the musical segments, with the exception of a fruitless search for a Gotham tap-dancing landmark called the Tree of Hope, which has a likable spontaneity that’s more or less nonexistent on TV. It’s really only when he’s dancing that Glover has the charisma of a star.
Fortunately, for most of the hourlong show he’s doing just that, accompanied by a star-powered lineup of musical acts that range from the funkified gospel of Kirk Franklin and God’s Property to the soulful pop of Stevie Wonder, who performs his “Ribbon in the Sky” while Glover taps against a Battery Park skyline. Other performers include Puff Daddy and the Family (Puff himself hoofs it up impressively) and femme trio SWV, accompanied by rapper Redman.
Truth be told, format is rather odd, with one’s attention being divided between the spectacular pyrotechnics of Glover’s free-form tap and the musical acts performing live. The dancing is best displayed in a segment without a live band sharing the spotlight, as Glover and a troupe of tappers work their magic to a Duke Ellington tune in the shadow of a Manhattan bridge.