Oregon Cabaret Theatre presents a medley of jazz and tap numbers in its original production "Riffin' & Tappin'. "
Oregon Cabaret Theatre presents a medley of jazz and tap numbers in its original production "Riffin' & Tappin'."
The show features the rhythm and taps of Southern Oregon dancers Suzanne Seiber and Jim Giancarlo and New York-based dancer Christopher George Patterson. Accompanying the feet beat are local musicians Tom Freeman on percussions, Paul Jenny on trumpet and guitar and Thomas MacKay on keyboards.
"Riffin' & Tappin'" will open Friday, Sept. 10, with previews on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 8 and 9, and will run through Sunday, Oct. 31. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. Sunday brunch matinees are at 1 p.m.
"Riffin' & Tappin' " was motivated by the dancers' longstanding desire to perform together and explore the progression of jazz and tap in a show, says Giancarlo, the Cabaret's artistic director.
"('Riffin' & Tappin') isn't a story per se, but it is all about rhythm and jazz," he says.
Without a score or script to follow, the dancers and musicians collaborated on the material and arrangements.
"We each have a different approach to tap ... and I think that's what's exciting about the program," he says. "It's a collaboration, so you're going to get more variety."
The program opens with the piece, "The Language of Tap," written by Giancarlo to introduce the history of tap and its vocabulary and steps, including the shuffle off to Buffalo, the Cincinnati, the Shorty George and the Maxie Ford.
The program reflects the evolution of jazz and tap through the 20th century.
"We start out with the older-style — early 20th century— jazz, then we move into more '40s swing and then eventually into cool '50s jazz and bebop," says Giancarlo.
By the end, dancers are tapping to '70s fusion rock jazz and more contemporary pop scores.
Numbers are performed as solos, duets and trios, and the majority are accompanied by the vocal stylings of the dancers, along with Jenny.
Patterson pays tribute to American actor and dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in the number "Doin' the New Low Down," performed with Seiber as Shirley Temple.
Later, Seiber and Giancarlo perform a duet to "The Shorty George," featured in the '40s film "You Were Never Lovelier," starring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth.
Other numbers are '40s swing tune "Rhythm in a Riff," George Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm," Jenny's original piece "Blue Shoes" and a couple of Latin numbers.
Set and lighting design are by Craig Hudson, and costume design is by Kerri Lea Robbins. Michael Halderman is the technical director, and Kathleen Mahoney is the stage manager.
Tickets are $19 for previews, $21 for Sunday evening, $27 for Sunday brunch matinees, $27 and $29 for Thursday and Monday shows and $31 and $33 for Friday and Saturday shows.
Gourmet dining and brunch are available with advance reservations. Appetizers, desserts and beverages are also available without reservations. Ticket prices do not include food or beverages.
For tickets, visit www.oregoncabaret.com, call 541-488-2902, or stop by the box office.