‘The Tap Dance Kid’ at Encores Great American Musicals at City Center

Theater is First to Require Vaccine ‘Booster’ for Admittance

New York City Center Saturday night

By Jonathan Spira on 6 February 2022
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City Center, under its new artistic director, Lear DeBessonet, launched its 2022 Encores Great American Musicals season with something far newer than is typical for the series. (One recent production was “High Button Shoes,” a 1947 musical set in the 1910s.)   Written in 1983, “The Tap Dance Kid,” which in this production is  set in the 1950s, is the story of a boy who wants to dance.  It is a true celebration of the art form while the plot is more reminiscent of a rather mundane television sitcom of the era it is set in.

The show uses the trials and tribulations that two children of the 1950s faced in dealing with their parents as a plot device, and it turns out, weren’t terribly different than what many kids face today.

But the dancing is nothing short of breathtaking.  From “Fabulous Feet,” which showcases Trevor Jackson, to the ensemble piece “Dipsey’s Vaudeville,” the show will have you on your feet (pun intended) in short order.

Jackson, Adrienne Walker, and Joshua Henry led the cast of the rarely seen musical as Uncle Dipsey, Ginnie, and William, along with Alexander Bello as Willie in the title role, Tracee Beazer as Carole, DeWitt Fleming Jr. as Daddy Bates, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Emma, and Chance K. Smith as Winslow.

What was equally impressive – if not more so – is an almost singular accomplishment in the Coronavirus age, namely that everyone in the audience and cast were not only fully vaccinated per New York City law but also had received a third dose, or booster.

“As of January 31, 2022, all eligible artists, crew, staff, and audience members are required to provide proof of receiving a Covid-19 booster, in addition to their full Covid-19 vaccination,” City Center advises on its website.

Given that City Center, a 1922 Moorish Revival theater on West 55th Street, seats 2,257 theatergoers, I had expected a long wait at the door.  But lo, the ever clever managers at City Center had a lane system that could be the envy of many airports, let alone theaters.  Upon walking up to the outdoor lanes, which were designated for different shows, I was invited to the left most lane, open for anyone (City Center has three stages) where my New York State Excelsior vaccine pass was checked for a minimum of three doses against my Austrian passport in a matter of seconds.

I was further impressed when I went out for fresh air during the intermission despite the bitter cold and vaccine passports – not tickets –  were once again checked (also in a supremely efficient manner) before reentry.

Broadway theaters have sent signals that they will likely follow suit, although the timetable is yet unknown, and the Metropolitan Opera, which announced its policy in the fall, instituted a booster requirement for all adult employees and audience members in mid-January.  Carnegie Hall, meanwhile, will follow suit with a similar requirement on February 14.

Once inside the theater, I felt more at ease than I had even at shows where there was a “fully vaccinated” requirement in place.  Yes, we were all masked but, unlike at other performances in the past few months, I didn’t discern any audience members removing their masks or attempting to wear them as either a chin diaper or mouth covering.

Omicron has turned the definition of fully vaccinated upside down given its high level of transmissibility and, while it may take a while for masks in theaters to no longer be necessary, the less drama there is at theaters – unlike what one finds in the “friendly skies” – the better an experience one will have.

THE DETAILS

The Tap Dance Kid
New York City Center
Limited engagement through February 6, 2022
New York City Center
131 W 55th Street
New York, N.Y. 10019
Runtime: 2 hours and 30 minutes
www.nycitycenter.org

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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