Conceived by Maurice Hines. Book by Heru Ptah. Music and lyrics by Maurice White. Directed and choreographed by Hines. With ensemble cast. Hilton Theatre (see Broadway).
Thu May 4 2006
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5
How long do you suppose it took the 20 or so Hot Feet dancers—a diverse, attractive and insanely hardworking bunch—to perfect director-choreographer Maurice Hines’s demanding moves? Weeks, perhaps? Executing his erratic (and often tacky) mix of hip-hop, ballet, jazz steps and krumping would require a terrific level of versatility and physical intelligence. Now how much time do you suppose book writer Heru Ptah and Hines spent crafting a fine, engrossing story line to effectively frame the dances and the Earth, Wind & Fire funk hits that dominate the production? Judging by the lame jokes, absent character detail and the ludicrous dead-end plot, I’d say that Ptah (a young, self-made hip-hop novelist) wasted 15 minutes, max.
Even with Hans Christian Andersen’s short story “The Red Shoes” and Michael Powell’s 1948 movie of the same name for inspiration, this overamped, overacted eyesore barely sustains interest beyond the morbid kind: What new terpsichorean travesty will they foist on us next? In seeking to force the Faustian moral of the aforementioned sources into a modern-day African-American context, Hines displays either flagrant ignorance, cynicism—or both. Here, his Satan-allied choreographer-impresario, Victor Serpentine (Keith David), is some nonsensical alloy of Alvin Ailey and a strip-club manager. Hines’s jaw-dropping lack of taste and tonal control makes the fatal tale of aspiring hoofer Kalimba (Vivian Nixon) deeply bathetic. She may dance herself to an early grave, but not before you’ve laughed yourself to death.—David Cote