New tap show premieres in Sarasota

May 23, 2013 

Lauralyn McClelland and Noah Racey star in "Pulse." John Revisky/publicity photo

Noah Racey and Jeff Calhoun have a lot in common, including impressive lists of Broadway credentials and love of classic song and dance.

They also share credit for bringing "Pulse," a new show that celebrates that uniquely American art form to the stage. "Pulse" has its world premiere this weekend at Asolo Repertory Theatre.

The idea, they said, was to honor the kind of performance associated with such stars as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor, but add a contemporary sensibility.

"It's old-school song and dance with a new-school sensibility," Racey said. "I think 'Stomp' is to drumming what 'Pulse' is to song and dance."

Racey is the creator and choreographer of "Pulse," and one of its six performers, and Calhoun is its director. On Broadway, Racey was featured in the Rupert Homes/Kander and Ebb musical "Curtains" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Calhoun directed "Newsies: The Musical," which is still running after more than a year, and "Bonnie and Clyde," which premiered at Asolo Rep before it went to Broadway in 2011.

Tap is enjoying new popularity, Calhoun said, and the level of talent has never been stronger.

"You'll see an athlete in the Olympics set a world record that no one think can be beaten, and the next Olympics someone sets a new world record," he said.

"It's like that with tap. I look at these dancers and they are doing things I couldn't even have imagined a generation ago."

Details: May 23-June 16, Asolo Repertory's Mertz Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday- Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $20-$72. Information: 941-351-8000 or www.asolorep.org.

-- Marty Clear

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