“Holidays on Tap” by Unexpected Stage Company put on one of the best holiday shows in the area this past Saturday night. Featuring pianist Hope Udobi Nwachukwu, vocalist Porsche Vanderhorst, and tap dancer Baakari Wilder, this intimate production boasted top-notch skill and artistry blended with the perfect symbiosis of three creative spirits as the trio intertwined their talents in a varied and thoughtfully chosen selection of holiday songs. Local brews were also available in the lobby during the event for a suggested donation, provided by Solace Brewing Co. and 7 Locks Brewing.
… the perfect symbiosis of three creative spirits …
Udobi Nwachukwu started the concert with an original composition entitled “In the Wild.” This was a beautifully mysterious selection and I greatly enjoyed his clean technique on all of the difficult runs as well as the unexpected melodies that occasionally floated out in the higher register. It was a dazzling start to an amazing evening.
Jazz Vocalist Vanderhorst demonstrated masterful technique throughout the evening, showing off her wide range of stylistic ability and effects from watery vibratos on higher notes to soulfully belted lower notes. Her charisma was equally evident as she charmed the audience with her engaging introductions to each song and sung to each corner of the room, as the audience was seated on every side of the stage, and she sang every song with passion.
Tap Dancer Wilder was truly a master of his craft, at times giving the lightest pianissimo of feathery taps and at times letting loose. His tapping was artistically woven into each song to complement both the singer and the pianist. His joy was infectious and I especially liked how he maintained frequent eye contact with both Vanderhorst and Nwachukwu to read their timing and emotions. It was clear that this trio was incredibly cohesive and I can only hope that we will see much more from them in the future.
The concert featured a lovely multicultural variety of songs encompassing holidays such as Chanukah and Kwanzaa as well as both secular and sacred Christmas songs and some inspirational numbers. The biggest showstopper was the trio’s rendition of “O Holy Night,” featuring a sensitively interpretive tap performance by Wilder along with Vanderhorst’s outstanding vocals, all complemented by Udobi Nwachukwu’s emotional piano playing.
Vanderhorst’s vocals gave me chills on “I Need You to Survive,” especially when she kept modulating to higher and higher keys as the song progressed. Wilder shone on every number, but Gloucestershire Wassail was especially dynamic as he and the pianist gradually increased and decreased their tempo throughout the song.
Overall, I would highly recommend “Holidays on Tap,” but it was sadly a one-night event. I hope that this talented trio will continue to perform regularly in our area. They added the sparkle to this holiday season.
Running Time: 90 minutes with 2 intermissions
“Holidays on Tap” by Unexpected Stage Company was a one night event. For more information on future productions, click here. For more information on pianist Hope Udobi Nwachukwu, click here. For more information on tap dancer Baakari Wilder, click here.