This Joint is Jumpin’ continues at The Other Palace, London until 15 April.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Tap is definitely back on the London stage, with the glittering revival of 42nd Street opening at Drury Lane, and the world premiere of This Joint is Jumpin’ at The Other Palace – a celebration of a more modern but no less spectacular tap dancing style.
Choreographer and tap dancer extraordinaire Michela Marino Lerman has co-conceived this new musical revue with vocalist and musical director Michael Mwenso.
Here they give the immortal Fats Waller catalogue a different, more streetwise treatment than the well-known Ain’t Misbehavin’ revue (perhaps the very first jukebox musical which opened on Broadway in 1978 and has been seen in London a couple of times).
A mix of singing with high-energy tap dancing and some slightly overlong patter, the show takes place at a rent party in Harlem in the 1920s, a social occasion where tenants hired musicians to perform and pass the hat to raise money to pay their rent (the event played a major role in the development of jazz and blues music).
The excellent five-piece band is very much part of the action, as are MC Sammy Slyde, played by the commanding Desiree Burch; international jazz vocalist Vuyo Sotashe; and tap dancing sensation Joseph Wiggan, seen on Broadway last season in Shuffle Along.
All have their moments, but aside from Michela Marino Lerman’s showstopping tap solos, the evening belongs to Broadway star Lillias White, making her long overdue London debut.
The original Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle award winning star of The Life steals the show with every single one of her too rare appearances.
She shines on ‘I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling’ and ‘Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now’, but her rendition of ‘Black and Blue’ is the more heart-breaking and spine-tingling. On the heels of this energy-filled electrifying little show, we can’t wait to be treated to a solo concert…
In the meantime, just run to The Other Palace studio theatre, This Joint is Jumpin’ is not to be missed.