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Dancing at 'Da Ahmanson

Music Center Audience in Step With 'Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk'

March 13, 1998|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Wednesday's opening night performance of "Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk" at the Ahmanson Theatre with an after-party in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion's Grand Hall. Until April 26, high-energy tap dancing rocks the Music Center. "It's very vibrant in the way it uses sound, it uses dance and it uses movement to bring history alive in a dynamic way," said Danny Glover.

Who Was There: In terms of glitz, theater in L.A. ranks somewhere between the Sacramento Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the Oscars, if they were held in Fresno. Joining the cast were Natalie Cole, Jimmy Smits, Andrea Martin, Lynn Redgrave, Anna Deavere Smith, Alfre Woodard, Sid Ganis, Eva Marie Saint and Gordon Davidson.

Observed: In a scene worthy of a New Yorker cartoon, one conservatively dressed, middle-aged man turned to another and said, completely deadpan, "I'm here to bring in the funk."

Buzz: The audience was primed for this. The standing ovation began almost before the show ended. "The juices were already flowing," said co-star Vickilyn Reynolds about the crowd, "but it just pumps you up even more."

Best Compliment: "I saw great feet," said 80-year-old Fayard Nicholas, who goes beyond being a legend into whatever realm of the gods tap dancers ascend. He wasn't thrilled with the way the Nicholas Brothers and Bill Robinson were alluded to in scenes depicting 1930s Hollywood's treatment of black characters.

But still he liked the show. "Really entertaining," he said. "Really entertaining."

Quoted: "L.A. needs more things like this to bring the people together," said Herbie Hancock. "This is something that's American. It's got African-American roots, but it's expressed as part of the great American experience."

Overheard: "This was really good," said a local nightlife savant. "We usually get the productions with Marlo Thomas and Dick Van Patten."

Sighting: Just before midnight, Savion Glover (the show's 23-year-old choreographer, Broadway star and Tony Award winner) was sitting in the Music Center Plaza wearing a watch cap, baggy jeans and an oversize nylon jacket. He said he was waiting to drive a cast member home. He didn't see the opening. He skipped the party. He said he was glad the show was "getting the lessons out," but for whatever reason he couldn't verbalize, he was standing in the shadows.

* THEATER REVIEW F1

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