Artistic Director Mark Yonally and Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT) presented Tapped for the Very First Time at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. For the first time there were two shows, Saturday, June 23 and Friday, June 29. Tapped for the Very First Time coincided with the end of Pride month. It was a celebration of divas and their music including Patti Labelle, Whitney Houston, Madonna and others. This was my “first time”. This was the fir time I saw a show of this kind though I have seen and enjoyed several CTT performances. Hosted by the incomparable Mattrick Swayze, there were arrangements of fantastic dancing and live music by the JC Brooks Band with special appearances by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus.
Two years ago we presented our first Pride-focused evening, We Will Tap You, to the music of Queen, and it was a HUGE success,” said Artistic Director Yonally. Indeed, that year’s production ended up on the Chicago Tribune and Windy City Times “10 Best Dance Events of the Year” list, with the Chicago Tribune saying, “an entertainment that, in under two hours, brought everybody to a new plane of joy and love.” Also, worth noting, three of the four reviews specifically asked for this to be an annual production!
“To make the 2018 performances even bigger, we have added the JC Brooks Band who are arranging and performing the music live. If you have never seen JC Brooks in person, you are in for a treat. I am also thrilled to be partnering with the Athenaeum Theatre to present TWO performances this year,” Yonally continued.
The show soared to new heights, thanks in part to the extensive contributions of Swayze, backed by the Swayzettes. He was truly funny, outrageously sexy. He held the audience in his hands. They loved him.
Tapped for the Very First Time featured choreography by Mark Yonally and Kirsten Uttich. Dancers include Mark Yonally, Jennifer Yonally, Kirsten Uttich, Isaac Stauffer, Aimee Chase, Sara Anderson, Emily Broeker, Bailey Caves, Anabel Watson and Chris Matthews. Music was arranged and performed by the JC Brooks Band, with guest artists including the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, the Lakeside Pride Freedom Marching Band and many surprise guests.
I found the lighting fascinating, and along with the costumes, this added to the over the top glitz.
Mattrick Swayze AKA Matthew Hollis is a long-time friend and fan of Chicago Tap Theatre. As a dancer, Swayze has had the pleasure of performing for Hedwig Dances, The Seldoms, Joe Goode Performance Group and Mary Zimmerman. As a choreographer, he has been a recipient of The Chicago Dancemakers Forum Grant and has presented his work throughout the world. As a fitness expert, Swayze is a personal trainer and the co-creator of POMSQUAD Fitness which has been featured on WGN “Midday Fix,” NBC’s “1st Look” and WCIU’s “You & Me in the Morning.” The Swayze we saw was the sassy mouthed, high heel wearing host and late night fixture with The Chicago Dance Crash’s long running dance battle KTF. Mattrick recently competed on Wheel of Fortune, where he won fabulous cash and prizes.
JC Brooks is a musician and actor, whose unique brand of “indiesoul” is performed with some of Chicago’s best musicians in an eponymous project (formerly The Uptown Sound). Sometimes you can catch him with electro- r&b duo, the K.i.D., or as a solo singer/poet. He’s played at City Winery to a sold out House Of Blues. Beyond Chicago he’s been tapped for a week-long residency in Brooklyn at a one-of-a-kind multimedia salon called Nightcap Riot and also to play in Milan for its mayor’s reception dinner for their new sister city, Chicago. He’ll be releasing a brand new EP this upcoming April-find out where you can catch him at: JCBrooksBand website
What will next year’s CTT event will be? I will have to wait and see.
Photos: Courtesy of Chicago Tap Theatre