Category: Chicago Tap Theatre

Review: Changes – A Science Fiction Tap Opera to the Music of David Bowie (Chicago Tap Theatre)

Isaac Stauffer stars in Changes Science Fiction Tap Opera, Chicago Tap Theatre           

Music by David Bowie
Choreography by Mark Yonally  
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru July 16  |  tix: $23-$37  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

July 2, 2017 | 0 Comments More

A stockingful of holiday shows in Chicago for 2016!


Ariana Burks stars as Clara in The Nutcracker, House Theatre Chicago 2Jason Groff stars as Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas, Broadway ChicagoLisa Gaye Dixon as Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol at Goodman TheatreFrancis Guinan and Travis Turner in Twist Your Dickens or Scrooge You, Second City Goodman TheatreErica Stephan stars as Irene Roth in Crazy for You, Drury Lane TheatreJoe Foust and Larry Yando in A Christmas Carol, Goodman Theatre

The Chicago theater community will again produce a wide array of Christmas and holiday plays, musicals, ballets and comedies in 2016, all designed to put you in a festive mood.  Find the entire list of holiday offerings below

November 30, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Time Steps (Chicago Tap Theatre)

Mark Yonally and Jennifer Pfaff Yonally in Time Steps, Chicago Tap Theatre           
Time Steps

Written by Marc Kelly Smith
Choreographed by Mark Yonally
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Apr 10  |  tix: $35  | more info
Check for half-price tickets   

April 3, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Unleash the Beats (Chicago Tap Theatre)

Rich Ashworth stars in Chicago Tap Theatre's "Unleash the Beats," directed by Mark Yonally.  (photo credit: Josh Hawkins)        
Unleash the Beats
Directed by Mark Yonally
at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (map)
thru June 28  |  tickets: $22-$35   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review
June 29, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: LoveTaps (Chicago Tap Theatre)

Chicago Tap Theatre presents the world premiere of "LoveTaps" by Marc Kelly Smith, Andrew Edwards and Mark Yonally, directed by Harrison McEldowney. (photo credit: Josh Hawkins)        

Written by Marc Kelly Smith
Choreographed by Mark Yonally
Directed by Harrison McEldowney
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru March 23  |  tickets: $22-$35   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets  
                   Read review

March 20, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Tidings of Tap (Chicago Tap Theatre)

Mark Yonally performs in Chicago Tap Theatre's "Tidings of Tap" performed at UIC Theatre in Chicago, IL on Dec 9-11, 2011.."Carol of the Bells", choreography by Mark Yonally, pictured dancer(s): Samantha O'Connell, Kirsten Williams, Mark Yonally and Sam Nolte perform in Chicago Tap Theatre's "Tidings of Tap", choreographed by Mark Yonally and Rich Ashworth. (photo credit: Josh Hawkins)        
Tidings of Tap 

Choreographed by Mark Yonally 
       and Rich Ashworth
at UIC Theater, 1044 W. Harrison (map)
thru Dec 16  |  tickets: $20-$35   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

December 13, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Changes (Chicago Tap Theatre)


It’s bizarre. It’s fun. It’s tap-opera!


Changes - Chicago Tap Theatre 01

Chicago Tap Theatre presents
Choreographed by Mark Yonally
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
through March 20  |  tickets: $18-$30  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

I’m not sure if there is a huge audience out there for “tap opera,” it’s an odd idea and it sometimes the ideas behind it conflict with each other. Chicago Tap Theatre claims to have pioneered/invented/discovered the art form, so each show, they seem to say is an experiment. To be honest, I never really thought of tap dance as a storytelling medium—it feels far better suited for the Lawrence Welk Show. But the talented dancers tapping their hearts out with CTT proved me wrong when I saw their Changes. It’s a non-verbal, all tap “opera” about alien genocide, set to the music of David Bowie. Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.

Changes - Chicago Tap Theatre 04Changes works far better than it should. A race of happy aliens is betrayed by one of their own to a race of angry, power hungry aliens. Major Tom, Bowie’s astronaut muse, rockets to the same planet, meets the afflicted inhabitants, and works on setting things straight. It’s safe to say it’s a pretty simple narrative, and one safe for children. But the innovative tap dancing adds layer and character—these folks are acting through their feet. And CTT chose a good mix of Bowie, including “Fame,” “The Man Who Sold the World” and “Starman.” The zonked-out lyrics and spacey melodies gel with the story being told. The songs actually construct and inform the story as much as the dancing. For the most part, everything fits together decently. Founders of the style, Chicago Tap knows what they’re doing.

There are several leaks in CTT’s ship. None completely derail the production, but I wouldn’t call Changes the epitome of “tap opera.” But it sure is a great experiment.

Mark Yonally’s choreography matches up with the music well most of the time, but there are several moments where the thunderous tapping overpowers Bowie’s more subtle tunes. Maybe I’m biased, but I see tap as a happy enterprise. Yonally and the dancers stretch to find dramatic weight in their tapping, and some more serious moments don’t fly. However, CTT is able to make tap far more expressive than I thought possible. Again, they’re still discovering the form.

Another problem with the show is that dancers give up their characters whenever the stepping stops. When a song fades out, they devolve into amateurish pantomimes, usually involving a lot of pointing and smiling. I know I shouldn’t expect Steppenwolf-quality acting from a show about aliens and David Bowie. But the singers don’t stop acting after their arias in real operas, why should tap opera be any different? Call me nitpicky, but having some consistency would make a big difference.

Changes - Chicago Tap Theatre 02 Changes - Chicago Tap Theatre 06
Changes - Chicago Tap Theatre 07 Changes - Chicago Tap Theatre 08

Still, Changes is two tons of fun. It’s flashy, accessible, and short. Yet, there is some serious talent at Stage 773. Richard Ashworth’s Major Tom, especially, has some serious moves. His jerky, rolling spacewalk to “Space Oddity” is one of the best moments of the show. The simple yet effective set contains a few surprises, too.

One reason to go to Changes is just so you can say you witnessed a tap opera. I don’t know if it is the future of tap or opera. It may not be a sustainable genre, but CTT sure tries their hardest to put it out there. There’s something valiant about that. These people have a story to tell and a fascinating way to tell it—one that doesn’t rely on heavily produced projections. Instead, they use their bodies and their feet. Then there’s Bowie, who’s weird enough to glue everything together. It’s so bizarre, which is maybe why it works so well.

Rating: ★★★

Changes - Chicago Tap Theatre 03


CTT Dancers: Christina Merrill, Jenna Deidel, Jennifer Pfaff, Kendra Jorstad, Kirsten Williams, Laura Chiuve, Molly Stoltz, Phil Brooks, Richard Ashworth, Stacy Milam


March 20, 2011 | 0 Comments More