“Fierce!” “Too marvelous!” These sentiments (Maurice Hines’ own) are exclaimed aloud during the ArtsEmerson presented “Tappin Thru Life,” but they only begin to describe the good ol’ fashion entertainment that the life-long performer brings to the stage at the Cutler Majestic Theatre this week.
Backed by the Berklee College of Music Select Big Band, Hines pours his heart and soul into the show, which grants the audience an intimate peek into his life in showbiz.
At almost 70-years-old, Hines’ stage presence is still both mesmerizing and inviting. One feels as if the theater is his living room and the audience old friends. His friends are treated to “My Fair Lady’s” “Get me to the Church on Time” simply because, he says, it’s “fun to sing.” He regales rapt listeners with stories about his parents. The 90-minute show is packed full — it features 20 songs honoring those whom Hines had personal connections with including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Lena Horne. As a touching tribute to his younger brother Gregory, Hines performs a soft-shoe number, illuminated in a spotlight.
In a nod to the next generation of performers, Hines introduces the future of tap — The Manzari Brothers. He stands like a proud father, watching the two brothers dance, even as they appear to be pushing the “old man” offstage.
In a conclusion juxtaposing Hines’ experience with fledgling talent, Hines presents 11-year-old Grace Emma Cannady. He recently discovered Cannady with the help of Roxbury Tap Company founder Sean Fielder. The young Westfield native is a force to be reckoned with, taking on both Manzari Brothers. This little girl is a star in the making. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll fall in love all over again with Maurice Hines in this nostalgic production that invokes all of the things that you forgot made you smile. You just needed Hines to remind you.
If you go
The Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont St., Boston