Review: ‘All Singin’ All Dancin’’

Winding up the Town Hall summer festival, a formidable assemblage of more than three dozen hoofers and gypsies gathered to celebrate some of the more memorable moments in the history of Broadway dance. Fluently staged and choreographed by Noah Racey, "All Singin' All Dancin'" defined the art of dance as a vital contribution to American musical theater.

Winding up the Town Hall summer festival, a formidable assemblage of more than three dozen hoofers and gypsies gathered to celebrate some of the more memorable moments in the history of Broadway dance. Fluently staged and choreographed by Noah Racey, “All Singin’ All Dancin'” defined the art of dance as a vital contribution to American musical theater.

Veteran dancer Harvey Evans, who made his debut in the 1957 tuner “New Girl in Town,” reminisced about his tutelage under choreographer Bob Fosse, and with traditional hat and cane and an ageless vaudeville spirit, he revived an old Walter Donaldson tune, “It Ain’t No Sin.”

Racey’s imaginative and often daring dance designs included a boldly sensual re-creation of the street gang as fashioned by a sextet of very hot ladies in “Cool,” from “West Side Story.” But the evening’s showstopper was set to Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” with Joyce Chittick assisted by a quintet of finger-snapping, hip-slapping guys for a long and steamy tap ballet that brought the cheering house to its feet.

Titled “Inappropriate Medley,” a playful Meredith Patterson and Shonn Wiley took a hilariously irreverent but slap-happy spin on “Poor Judd Is Dead” from “Oklahoma” and the ominous Nazi threat “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” from “Cabaret.”

A pert and pretty Nancy Anderson offered a torrid account of “That Means Nothing to Me,” joining Kevin Bernard for a playful lover’s spat in “Button Up Your Overcoat.” Elegantly poised in a slinky black gown, Tony winner Karen Ziemba breathed pensive persuasion into Kander and Ebb’s hymn of inevitability, “And the World Goes Round.”

In collegiate sweaters, Josh Prince and Kevin Worley coupled for a jaunty advanced lesson on “Educate Your Feet,” while Rachelle Rak supplied her own illumination for “City Lights.” As a demonically controlling dance director, Edward Hibbert governed his aching chorus line in the dancer’s confessional “Pain.”

In a buoyant nod to the memory of Gregory Hines, Kendrick Jones displayed the kind of legendary tap that was once a Broadway fixture. Set to the old Eubie Blake tune, “Hot Feet” was a classy expression of a vaudevillian art that’s all too rare on today’s stages.

Vocal interludes included Irving Berlin’s melancholic “What’ll I Do?,” sung with sweet sorrow by Christopher Spaulding; John Bolton’s expressively impatient dating game “Tonight at Eight,” from “She Loves Me”; and Julia Murney’s heartbreakingly beautiful Sondheim medley.

Assisted by the warming cello of Mairi Dorman, Murney merged “Good Thing Going” with “Not a Day Goes By,” putting an imaginary proscenium arch around her storytelling. Heartbreakingly poignant, she sang with distinction, clarity and beauty.

Racey took step, kick, touch down, back step, pivot and walk to new heights. There’s not a show on Broadway this season that boasts such wildly diverse expression in dance. It’s a real pity the revue was a one-nighter, consigning so much creative energy and exhaustive expression in dance to history.

All Singin' All Dancin'

Town Hall; 1,500 seats; $45 top

Production

A Town Hall presentation conceived, written and hosted by Scott Siegel. Directed and choreographed by Noah Racey. Musical director, Ross Patterson.

Creative

Lighting, John Gordon; associate choreographer, Lorin Lafarro; production stage manager, Charles Dishian. Reviewed July 30, 2007.

Cast

With: Nancy Anderson, David Baum, Kevin Bernard, Ward Billeisen, Richard H. Blake, John Bolton, Sara Brians, Joyce Chittick, Carolyn Doherty, Mairi Dorman, Harvey Evans, Matt Farnsworth, Deidre Goodwin, Luke Hawkins, Edward Hibbert, JoAnn M. Hunter, Kendrick Jones, Lorin Latarro, Marty Lawson, Matthew Loehr, Mary Macleod, Julia Murney, Jim Newman, Jack Noseworthy, Meredith Patterson, Josh Prince, Noah Racey, Rachelle Rak, Joe Aaron Reid, Megan Sikora, Christopher Spaulding, Amanda Watkins, Jennifer West, Shonn Wiley, Kevin Worley, Jason Yudoff, Karen Ziemba.
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