Tidings of Tap Review - A Stunning Performance by Chicago Tap Theatre

Chicago Tap Theatre was excited about premiering their annual “Tidings of Tap” at a new venue, the lovely 900-seat North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.  This was my first opportunity to see this group though this is their fourteenth year.  I read that,  “The new venue comes with a refresh for the show, but don’t worry, we’ll keep audience favorites like Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah and Skating!” Now that I have seen these numbers, they have become my favorite, too.

Dancers hang from the lobby ceiling, Photo: B. Keer

The entire program was an absolute delight.  I was glad to be part of the devoted, enthusiastic audience. The program featured rhythm and whimsy-filled interpretations of some favorite Christmas, Hanukkah and Winter songs, and was a fun yet sophisticated, family-friendly afternoon. Along with the dancing, which was superb and highly original and creative, I loved the costuming, lighting, the projection and the live band with singing.


Kirsten Uttich, Jessica Williams, Casha Merkulov and Jennifer Yonally

As the first number began, it was immediately clear that this was not tap in any way that I had seen previously.  This piece called, “Bells” had beautiful choreography by Mark Yonally set to music by Kurt Schweitz.  It was lyrical and balletic with flowing dresses and a gentle percussive tap in just the right places.

Hanukkah- Isaac Stauffer, Davon Suttles, Mark Yonally


Hanukah, Oh Hanukah took a completely different turn.  Choreographed by Mark Yonally to traditional music, dancers Isaac Stauffer, Davon Suttles and Mark Yonally were humorous, surprising and delightful.


Isaac Stauffer

For the first time CTT is adding a light narrative about a young girl (played by Russian Rhythmic Gymnast Master Dasha Merkulov) as she goes on a journey through the wintry woods. While the audience heard many of their favorite seasonal tunes, they also experienced an array of performances including a guest appearance by the stilt concert dancers from Kristina Isabelle Dance Company and an opportunity for local tap performers to join the Holiday production.


Dasha Merkulov

The projections of snow and winter scenes along with flowing costumes created a beautiful scene.  There was, of course, some terrific traditional tap and an unusual number, “Rest Ye, Man” arranged by Kurt Schweitz with improvography by Mark Yonally.  This was captivating and unique. Tidings of Tap! was choreographed by YonallyKirsten UttichRichard Ashworth, Valerie Lussac and Caleb Teicher.

Skating, Jennifer Yonally

Mark your calendars for next year’s performance on December 10.  You won’t want to miss the final gathering of dancers and audience as they perform the Shim Sham. 


Chicago Tap Theatre students perform in Tidings of Tap

After the performance I had the chance to talk with some of the people who know the company well, a board member, an adult student and a dancer – all very enthusiastic.  It seems this company is like a big family.  You will love what they do.

Sarah Anderson (company apprentice), Jackie Wiley (student) and Mary Frances Wiley, (board member)


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 Chicago audiences for over 10 years. 


Check the Chicago Tap Theatre website to learn about future performances.



All Photos by Josh Hawkins unless otherwise specified.



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