Pros: Excellent dancing and a good selection of music performed by very talented artists. Energetic and fun.
Cons: If you dislike jazz music, this show is not for you.
The cozy downstairs studio at The Other Palace has exactly the right atmosphere for this show. It has its own bar, which is great as you don’t have to leave to get your drinks, and if you arrive early enough you may even manage to grab one of the comfy armchairs. The tiny stage somehow manages to accommodate three singers, two tap dancers, a Master of Ceremonies and a five piece band including drum kit and piano. Okay, they are not always all on the stage at the same time, but I still do not know how they managed to avoid falling over each other.
The show opens with a tap performance from Michela Marino Lehman, who is also the choreographer of the show. She is joined by Joseph Wiggan, and between them they perform spectacularly energetic dancing throughout the show. It is obviously exhausting work, and yet they manage to keep enormous grins in place.
As well as the dancing, we are treated to a selection of Fats Waller numbers by Michael Mwenso’s band The Shakes, joined by singers Vuyo Sotashe and Lillias White. White certainly belts them out and her performance went down a storm, while also providing a good contrast with the singing styles of Sotashe and Mwenso. Everyone deserves a mention for the excellent performances, but I am going to limit myself to two: pianist Mathis Picard, who is on stage for every musical number, and sax player Ruben Fox. Comedian Desiree Birch links everything together as the androgynous MC Sammy Slyde. Some of the jokes and transitions were a bit strained, and I was left with the feeling that she probably should have been allowed more license to ad-lib.
The show is set around the conceit of it being a rent party, but I’m not sure why they bothered. The show certainly doesn’t need to have a kind of story forced into it, why not just enjoy the music and dance? It is also peppered with readings and short passages of dialogue which give a flavour of the times Fats Waller lived in. Quite interesting but, again, it didn’t really add anything to the whole, unless it was to give the other performers a break.
There is a good selection of Fats Waller songs including some slower ones, such as Black and Blue, to balance the lively numbers. So, for a fun couple of hours I recommend you don your pork pie hat and get down there for some sassy, modern interpretation of 1930s jazz.
Composer: Fats Waller
Director: Patrice Miller
Musical Director: Michael Mwenso
Choreographer: Michela Marino Lerman
Producer: Hoagy B. Carmichael
Box Office: 0844 264 2121
Booking Link: https://www.theotherpalace.co.uk/studio/this-joint-is-jumpin/
Booking Until: 15 April 2017