Racey’s “Pulse” is riveting from start to finish

Have you ever wondered what happened to those kids in school who were always tapping their feet, snapping their gum or shifting around impatiently in their seats waiting for class to end?  Well, according to the Asolo Repertory Theatre’s latest blockbuster production, Pulse, they may have become über-talented tap dancers.

In its world premiere last week, Pulse wowed audiences with a light-hearted but thoughtful production about the importance of tap in the lives of the company and those they touch with their performances. Noah Racey and his merry band of tappers each told us their story of how they became a dancer. One practiced tap in detention; one scuffed his mother’s cherrywood floor and then tried to cover his tracks with an area rug; and Racey himself was a stutterer with many tics who channeled his excess energy into his art.

In the most memorable and touching part of the evening, Racey thanked his mother for not drugging away his quirks and for allowing him to work his way out of his tics through the magic of dance in a dazzling performance that celebrated individuality.

The fittingly-named Racey treated us to a non-stop marathon of numbers designed to help us relax and leave our worries at the doorstep, while the cast and accompanying band performed their hearts out onstage. At the beginning of the performance and at its conclusion, Racey invited us to take a deep breath and explore the way in which art can set our minds at ease. He is a truly gifted song and dance man who kept the entire performance afloat with his charm and exuberance.“Pulse” is pure escapist pleasure that enraptured the cheering audience.

“I can’t stop smiling, can you?” proclaimed one of the ladies at the opening night after-party. Another noticed that I was tapping my toe the entire night when, in fact, I hadn’t even realized it. There wasn’t a moment of downtime in the 90-minute performance. From pieces such as George Cohan’s “Nothing New Beneath the Sun,” sung by Racey, about how the theme of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is repeated throughout the history of America; to the gorgeous rendition of “Under My Skin,” sung and danced by stand-out performer Frances Bradley, who seemed to have dance coursing through her veins—the night was filled with simple pleasures. I defy you not to leave the theater humming and strutting to that stroke of rhythm which resides in all of us. For tickets to the production, which only runs through June 16, call the box office at 351-8000 or reserve online at asolorep.org.

From left, Noah Racey, Jason Yudoff and Jon Berger go “Drum Crazy” in “Noah Racey’s Pulse” at Asolo Repertory Theatre. JOHN REVISKY PHOTO/PROVIDED BY ASOLO REP

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