By Brian Scott Lipton . . .

Once again, you must come and meet those dancing feet – except this time, they’re not on 42nd Street but on 55th Street, where City Center Encores! has launched its 2022 season with a superbly performed production of the 1983 musical The Tap Dance Kid. Sturdily directed by Kenny Leon and extravagantly choreographed by the great Jared Grimes, this outing may not convince you that the show is a classic-for-the-ages; but it will consistently entertain you and bring you to your own feet more than once.

As has been widely discussed, this Encores! season – the first under new artistic director Lear DeBessonet – is focusing on more modern works than the series has done in its previous 20+ years. (“The Life” and “Into the Woods” follow this spring). But audience members who have chosen to stay away because of this “change” should reconsider. The Tap Dance Kid, which adapter Lydia Diamond has re-set in 1956, is in many ways as old-fashioned as many of the musicals the series has previously presented.

Indeed, the show’s book, originally by Charles Blackwell (from Louise Fitzhugh’s novel Nobody’s Family is Going to Change), mixes kitchen-sink drama with an old-fashioned show-biz story. Hard-hearted, self-made black lawyer William Sheridan (an almost terrifying Joshua Henry) rules his home with an iron first, treating his devoted wife Ginnie (the excellent Adrienne Walker) and outspoken teenage daughter Emma (a superb Shahadi Wright Joseph) with little more than disdain.

Alexander Bello – Trevor Jackson

Worse yet, he’s determined to squash the dreams of his 10-year-old son Willie (Alexander Bello), who wants nothing more than to follow in the literal footsteps of Ginnie’s brother Dipsey (a sensational Trevor Jackson), a 33-year-old dancer/choreographer and director. As William consistently points out, Dipsey barely has a penny to his name, but that matters little to his namesake nephew, who is determined to continue his family legacy (which includes the fantastic Dewitt Fleming Jr. as Ginnie and Dipsey’s late father, former vaudevillian Daddy Bates).

Yes, the plot is predictable, and the score by Henry Kreiger (very much in the style of his megahit Dreamgirls) and Robert Lorick is primarily pleasant but forgettable. Still, the dance numbers are often intricate and breathtaking, from “Fabulous Feet,” which is a tour-de-force showcase for the multi-talented Jackson, to the ensemble-driven “Dipsey’s Vaudeville” and “Dance If It Makes You Happy.”

Adrienne Walker – DeWitt Fleming Jr – Trevor Jackson

Admittedly, Bello is not quite in the same terpsichorean league as Alfonso Ribiero or Savion Glover (both of whom played Willie during the show’s Broadway run), but he is engaging, utterly believable, and can still probably out-tap almost anyone in the audience. He also has an excellent, thoroughly believable rapport with Walker and Joseph.

Joshua Henry

Finally, if you don’t peek at your Playbill beforehand (and maybe even if you do), you’ll spend much of these 2 ½ hours wondering why Henry, as fine an actor as he is, has been cast in a non-singing role. Well, he hasn’t. The show’s 11 o’clock number, “William’s Song,” is a lengthy musical monologue that combines elements of “Rose’s Turn” and “Soliloquy, and Henry delivers it with such vocal force and dramatic precision that I literally felt goosebumps on my arms. Moreover, the song not only explains (if not excuses) William’s previous behavior, it helps lead the show to the not-unexpected happy ending.

So, while Covid still rages, the weather remains wintry, and the sun still sets before 6pm, why not “tap” your troubles away at City Center.

The Tap Dance Kid continues at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street) through February 6. Visit for tickets and information.

Photos: Joan Marcus