Chicago Tap All-Stars II | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chicago Tap All-Stars II 

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This year on the Chicago Tap All-Stars program you got your Vegas act, your basic rhythm tappers, and your upstart who wants to tell stories through tap. The Vegas act--Chicago natives Jay and Connie Fagan, a brother and sister who appeared at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino earlier this year--specializes in good-natured rivalrous patter. When his little sister outdoes him at Irish step dancing, Jay appeals to the audience--"I say one thing, she says another"--aiming to win our sympathy but also capturing the way tap dancers (and siblings) sometimes seem to speak a private language. Performing a variety of solos and duets, they reverse the usual order of events in Las Vegas by getting more and more dressed, adding vests and coats to their ensembles. The group that focuses on making music with its feet is Rhythm ISS..., an all-female company headed by Sarah Savelli. Though at times the dancers seem to be battling the recorded music in Summertime and Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing, at others they improve it--particularly the insipid refrain of the Stevie Wonder song. My favorite on tape, however, was Ahhh-capella, in which the foursome creates its own ditties without the benefit or competition of recorded accompaniment. The third group is Mark Yonally's Chicago Tap Theatre, whose repertoire runs the gamut from "heritage" dance--the troupe will perform Class Act, choreographed by swing-era hoofer Charles "Honi" Coles and Brenda Bufalino--to tap with a narrative line. In the new TripTicket, Yonally sketches a surreal journey in three sections called "Earth," "Hell," and "Paradise." The protagonist (Cassidy Linder) is beset by troubles and finally relieved of them, but more interesting than Yonally's allegory of suffering and redemption is the way he casts it in dance terms, proceeding from a sense of being mired in gravity to a sort of freedom and weightlessness. Vittum Theatre, 1012 N. Noble, 773-655-1175. Through July 18: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $15-$25.

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