Monday, February 20, 2023

REVIEW: Chicago Tap Theatre at 20: “Tempo, Rhythm, & Time” At The Den Theatre February 18 and 19, 2023

Chicago Tap Theatre Celebrates Two Decades of Performances Revisiting Classic Pieces that Shaped the Company 
Plus Two World Premieres

Chicago Tap Theatre Company Members
Photo by David Harmantas


By Catherine Hellmann, Guest Critic 

“JOY” is the word I keep circling back to in describing the 20th anniversary show and gala presentation by Chicago Tap Theatre. “Exhuberant!” is the other. 

Such a fun experience marveling at the passion and talent these folks brought to every single number. I barely took any notes because my attention was riveted to the fast-moving feet and thrilled smiles of the dancers. 

I really loved the “Under Pressure” number starring Christopher Matthews, Heather Latakas, Molly Eder, and Sara Anderson. Molly Smith and Sterling Harris each had solo numbers that were extraordinary. Artistic Director and Founder Mark Yonally also made a few appearances to share his love of the company he created. 

Act I ended with a rousing rendition of “Birdland.” A dozen tap dancers in close proximity is LOUD but glorious. (I was reminded of taking my ex to a ballet production years ago at the Auditorium Theater, and he referred to the troop of ballerinas jumping around as “a herd of swans.” He was a jerk, but he could be funny…)  Everyone was having a blast. 

Act II included a number by several women from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Spreading the excitement West of the Lake. 

The final number was “Somebody to Love” by Queen with choreography by Mark Yonally, providing every dancer their moment to shine. The costumes were bright, vivid colors. There was singing by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. The musicians also deserve special note (nice pun, eh?): fabulous bass player and music director Kurt Schweitz assembled a wonderful band with Chris Greene on sax. So much power and energy filled The Den Theater. 

My elation got the better of me, and I registered for the silent auction being held after the performance. From the passenger seat of my sister’s car, I purchased a bakery gift certificate and, even more amusing, a wine tasting for “up to twenty people.” Oops. Now I need to locate 20 of my best friends to go with me. LMK if you’re interested. ;-) Cheers!  

Cath Hellmann loves discovering gems in her fair city like Chicago Tap Theatre and, apparently, a new bakery and winery. Salut! 


Chicago Tap Theatre - Liora Lahav

Photo by David Harmantas

Chicago Tap Theatre celebrates 20 years of critically acclaimed dance with a show that is sure to impress. As always, the dancers of CTT will be joined by some of the finest musicians in Chicago playing everything from David Bowie to Queen to Charlie Parker.

All of the funds raised from this event will help CTT continue to represent tap dance and Chicago at the highest level, while providing access to world-class tap education and shows, and ensuring the viability of tap dance as an occupation by providing training and performance opportunities for their community.

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Artistic Director Mark Yonally and Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT) present “Chicago Tap Theatre at 20: Tempo, Rhythm and Time” at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., February 18 and 19, 2023. The weekend celebrates CTT’s two decades as one of Chicago’s premier dance companies as well as showcasing their talent worldwide. 

Chicago Tap Theatre launches its 20th anniversary with a celebratory performance featuring classics from its 20-year history, including two world premieres as well as pieces that have not been seen in Chicago since their debut. Chicago Tap Theatre is proud to revisit pieces from some of the early choreographers that shaped the Company including Mark Yonally, Rich Ashworth, Kirsten Uttich and new works from Heather Cornell, Tré Dumas, Sterling Harris, Molly Smith and Mark Yonally.


Past dances include Molly Smith's groundbreaking "Protect Trans Kids" and Mark Yonally’s “Somebody to Love,” which originally premiered in Chicago Tap Theatre’s 2016 Pride Show. As in the original production, the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus will join Chicago Tap Theatre for “Somebody to Love.”


There will also be two new commissions seeing the stage at this performance. Concert tap dance pioneer Heather Cornell, founding artistic director of Manhattan Tap, has set her masterpiece “Scrapple from the Apple” for CTT and local tap dancer, Tré Dumas, is creating a world premiere for this production.

Chicago Tap Theatre at 20: Tempo, Rhythm and Time features choreography by Heather Cornell, Tré Dumas, Sterling Harris, Molly Smith and Mark Yonally. Kurt Schweitz returns as the production’s Music Director and dancers for “Chicago Tap Theatre at 20: Tempo, Rhythm and Time” include Mark Yonally, Molly Smith, Sterling Harris, Sara Anderson, Heather Latakas, Molly Eder, Chris Matthews, Amber Buchanan, Liora Lahav, Michelle Haskell, Abby Cooper, Kirsten Uttich, Isaac Stauffer, Jorie Goins and Earlyn Whitehead. 


Founded in 2002, Chicago Tap Theatre is a growing and vibrant dance company dedicated to preserving the quintessentially American dance form of tap while taking it to the next level of creativity, innovation and quality. CTT performs exclusively with live music provided by some of Chicago’s finest musicians playing everything from Duke Ellington to David Bowie and many artists in between. Under the dynamic direction of master teacher and performer Mark Yonally, CTT has gained a loyal and sizable following in Chicago and continues to tour both nationally and internationally. Having pioneered the “tap opera” format, which tells stories with compelling characters and intriguing plots, CTT has used the language of tap dance, live music and narration to move audiences for over 20 years.

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