This Joint Is Jumpin’ at The Other Palace
This Joint Is Jumpin’ is the coolest “rent party” you’ve ever been to. Incorporating live Harlem Jazz, comedy and even tap dancing, this musical commending jazz icon Fats Waller somehow simultaneously entertains, educates and ensures an exciting experience. Few performances leave theatre-goers of such diverse ages and ethnicities captivated for the entirety of the spectacle, but with its incredibly enchanting storytelling, This Joint Is Jumpin’ enthrals its audience. There’s almost always more than one thing happening on and off stage; for example, tap dancing solos incorporated into jiving jazz while cast members spread throughout the cosy, dimly lit venue shout, whoop and holler words of encouragement, often enticing viewers to partake.
Many critics believe that a production with too many elements cannot possibly excel in all its facets, however, This Joint Is Jumpin’s audacity certainly pays off, and every twist and turn it takes is expertly manoeuvred. The format of the show is refreshingly novel: periods of song intertwine with tap dances, which merge with some classic Harlem jazz, which blends into dry, witty humour. Never indolent and always lucid, this is an extravagantly intense portrayal of both 20th century and modern-day African Americans. Though the hostess frequently uses comedy to tease the audience about racial inequality (“I’m dreaming of a white privilege” is an actual line from the show), tangible moments of agony and misery are felt on multiple occasions, especially in the emotionally devastating ballad Black and Blue.
Singer Lillias White proves to be worthy of her Tony award with her immensely powerful, magically breathtaking voice, and Michael Mwenso and Vuyo Sotashe never cease to astonish with their smooth, honey-like vocals. Desiree Burch becomes her character Sammy Slyde with such ease, one effortlessly disremembers she’s acting. The Shakes, who provide the instrumental music, generate jazz worthy enough to share Waller’s legacy, and the resident tap dancers Michela Marino Lerman and Joseph Wiggan transport the audience back nearly a century with their rhythmically striking manoeuvres.
Thought-provoking and unapologetically feminist, This Joint Is Jumpin’ provides a night of entertainment that feels intimate yet electrifying. It is surely a classic in the making that deserves to be in the ranks of works such as The Lion King or Grease. Nearly flawless, this musical will remain in the hearts and heads of all spectators.
Photo: Darren Bell
This Joint Is Jumpin’ is at The Other Palace from 4th until 15th April 2017, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch a video about The Joint is Jumpin’ here: