(NEWARK, NJ) -- Famed Newark-born tap artist and dancemaker Savion Glover (“Shuffle Along,” “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk”) returns to the musical hit that introduced audiences to his ascendant talents when he directs and choreographs “The Tap Dance Kid” at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The performances, which feature a cast of promising young actors and dancers from throughout New Jersey and New York, take place on September 13 and 14 at 7:00pm and Sept. 15 at 2:00pm in NJPAC’s Victoria Theater.
This special revival of “The Tap Dance Kid” is part of the M&T Bank Dance Series at NJPAC. Based on the novel “Nobody’s Family Is Going to Change” by Louise Fitzhugh, the musical’s book is by Charles Blackwell, with music by Henry Krieger and lyrics by Robert Lorick. Glover’s choreography is inspired by the show’s original Tony-winning choreography by Danny Daniels.
Ten-year-old Savion Glover became a Broadway sensation when he stepped into the title role of Willie in “The Tap Dance Kid” in 1984. His storied career has since included roles in major motion pictures, countless stage appearances, and a collection of awards for his advancement of the tap legacy. A four-time Tony Award nominee, Glover won a Tony in 1996 for his choreography in “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk.”
The Arts Center’s Dance Advisor and a member of NJPAC’s Board of Directors, Glover is also a master teaching artist who has conducted summer intensives in musical theater since 2016 at NJPAC’s Center for Arts Education. Among the original works he developed there were “BRiNG TiME BaCK @NJPAC” – a fantasia set in a jazz club – and “A John Coltrane Story ‘or Something Along Those Lines,” a dramatic rendering of the legendary jazz saxophonist’s troubled life.
An advocate for the importance of mentoring and passing knowledge forward to the next generation, Glover says this year’s residency is especially meaningful since he will coach the cast by drawing on his first-hand, deeply personal experience with “The Tap Dance Kid.”
“It’s a show to people, but to me it’s a statement of my life,” explains Glover, who will adapt the musical to resonate with today’s audiences in Newark. “Once we get in the room, it’s all about the work: what kind of magic or celebration we can create.”
“I saw Savion Glover as ‘The Tap Dance Kid’ on Broadway. He was 11 and I was electrified by his talent,” says NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber. “For Savion, now a mature and world-renowned artist, to be serving as the Arts Center’s Dance Advisor and Board member, and sharing his expertise with a young cast, is a dream come true for us. To be present at the creation of a new ‘Tap Dance Kid’ with Savion as director and choreographer is beyond fantastic. I can’t wait to see the magic unfold on stage.”
“The Tap Dance Kid” opened on Broadway in 1983 and was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two. The musical tells the story of Willie, a boy who dreams of becoming a star hoofer like his beloved uncle. Willie’s determination to succeed is nearly ruined by his father, who regards dance as a frivolous pursuit.
Auditions for NJPAC’s revival of “The Tap Dance Kid” were held over four days last May. Of the 60 hopefuls who participated, 30 performers – ranging in age from 11 to 23 – were chosen for the cast. A nine-week, Monday-through-Friday rehearsal period followed.
Savion Glover is a Tony Award-winning choreographer and legendary hoofer whose career has spanned four decades. He began his Broadway stage career as “The Tap Dance Kid,” and continued with “Black and Blue,” “Jelly’s Last Jam,” and his unprecedented award-winning “Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk,” which garnered him a Tony Award for Best Choreography. In addition to his extensive Broadway career as a performer and choreographer, Mr. Glover has created many tap repertoires that tour worldwide, including “Bare Soundz,” “Classical Savion,” “OM,” “STePz,” “Solo in Time,” “Sole Sanctuary,” “Improvography,” “Footnotes,” “Savion Glover’s Holiday Spectacular” and, most recently, the world premiere of “Lady5 @ Savion Glover’s BaRoQUé BLaK TaP CaFe” at the Joyce Theater. In addition to creating his ongoing bodies of work, Mr. Glover has enjoyed performing worldwide with jazz legends including McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes and Jack DeJohnette. Mr. Glover’s film credits include “Tap,” starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr.; Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled,” George Miller’s “Happy Feet” and “Happy Feet Two” and he has appeared on television in commercials, such as Free Style Nike, as well as a longstanding performer in “Sesame Street.” As a child, he was privileged to dance with and be guided by the great Bunny Briggs, Buster Brown, Lon Chaney, Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jimmy Slyde, and Diane Walker, to name a few. Mr. Glover was most recently recognized for his award-winning choreography in the acclaimed Broadway musical “Shuffle Along,” directed by George C. Wolfe, and as director and choreographer of “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope,” part of the 2018 Encores! series at City Center. He serves as Dance Advisor of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and is a member of its Board of Directors, and is the recipient of an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Montclair State University.