Stepology’s Bay Area Rhythm Exchange, Herbst Theatre, August 19

4 Sep

Stepology’s August Bay Area tap festival drew fans of various ages, shapes and ethnicities to Herbst Theatre in the Civic Center Veterans Building August 19 for the Eighth Bay Area Rhymn Exchange.  Naturally, the performance roster included the regulars  Channing Cook Holmes, John Kloss and once again Sam Weber, following his performing hiatus due to a hip replacement. To this tight little trio was added  Mark  Mendonca and Jason Rogers, plus Maya Kronfeld, a miraculous piano/keyboard artist, and bassist Lamont Keller. Besides these individual artists  San Francisco’s Barbary Coast Cloggers were featured for the second year, this year sporting an unidentified feminine performer. Missing was Melinda Sullivan who received a last minute call for a TV Taping.

The format didn’t change too much, but entertaining variations and the would- be clowning,  probably carefully outlined, if not actually rehearsed, helped to disguise the hole Sullivan’s absence created.  Pity that the TV producers didn’t
include the Exchange in their taping plans. It’s among the best of late summer diversions, bravura all the way.

There were the initial introductions with Kloss as the first soloist, followed by
Jason Rodgers with his engaging demeanor evoking old time tap entertainer style.  Sam Weber’s welcome reappearance demonstrated little diminution of his grace and elegance despite a slightly visible stiffness; artistry, however, remains unimpaired.

Mark Mendonca and Channing Cook Holmes gave us post intermission bravura,
charm and touches of clowning.  The Barbara Coast Cloggers provided the dancers with some fine pointers for clogging and with white protection suits over their garments beat out rhythms with sticks to open the second half of the program. Maya Kronfeld joined the lineup, giving them the benefit of her amazing rhythmic skills; a pity she can’t play the keyboards and dance at the same time.

At the end the tap devotees put on their shoes, joined the performers and a number of them executed brief riffs of their own, everyone finishing off with the shim-sham.

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