” Saving the World” Review – A Story Told in Tap and Music

"Saving the World"
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My friend who loves Tap dance and I, who love all dance, have enjoyed the opportunity of attending many of the Chicago Tap Theatre performances over several years.  However, Saving the World, now playing at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.,weekends until June 30th, was the first time that we saw a Tap Dance Opera even though the company has been performing them for many years.  I was surprised to learn that Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT) Artistic Director, Mark Yonally, created tap opera when he was pursuing his Dance Degree at the University of New Mexico 20 years ago.  Saving The World is a science fiction tap dance story show set to all-original music composed and performed live by Diana Lawrence, directed by Raphael Schwartzman, written by Slam Poetry Creator Marc Kelly Smith and choreographed by Yonally,

ChicagoTapTheatre, “Saving The World” Photo: Josh Hawkins

Saving The World is Chicago Tap Theater’s first all new story show in three years since 2016’s award-winning Time Steps and 2017’s box office smash Changes. Though science fiction about the near future, it has at least one foot in the present, because the cleverly designed set is 80% recyclable. Saving The World is about June Pasteur, portrayed in dance, magnificently, by Jennifer Pfaff Yonally, who somehow survived a catastrophic event that killed her parents. Though orphaned she managed to graduate from Carnegie-Melon University with a wish to save the world. She gathers people who are like minded and are ready to save the victims of the disasters that increase in frequency and severity. Then along comes the arrogant, prideful demagogue, Maximus Worthngton, very convincingly performed by Mark Yonally, thus, creating a conflict between those who still want to help victims and those who are sucked into making lots of money.

The standouts to me were many.  The simple, clever and effective set; the music that seemed to speak to the rhythm of the tapping shoes; the excellent lighting and sound, and the amazing dancing.  The newly created game of Pong Ping allowed for very exciting and captivating dancing. The costumes, street dress including the tap shoes, were consistent with the theme.  And, I can’t forget the janitor, our narrator, Marc Kelly Smith who kept the story clear and moving along.

Chicago Tap Theatre “Saving The World” Photo: Josh Hawkins

The cast includes: Jennifer Pfaff Yonally, Kirsten Uttich, Isaac Stauffer, Aimee Chase, Mark Yonally, Christopher Matthews, Anabel Watson, Bailey Caves, Heather Latakas, Sterling Harris, Case Prime and Molly Smith The production staff includes Sarah Lackner, production and stage manager; Dustin Derry, projection design; Emma Cullimore, costume design; and Graham Louthan, set and prop design.

This was a great show in an intimate venue that was perfect.  The performance schedule is Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.  Tickets are $40 for adults, $30 for seniors, students and dancers. Group discounts are also available. For tickets, go to ChicagoTapTheatre.com or call the Stage 773 box office at 773.327.5252.

Pong Ping

Photos: Courtesy of Chicago Tap Theatre

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