Bring in `Da Noise adds flair to past with rhythm

With feet stomping, tapping and clanking, Bring in `Da Noise, Bring in `Da Funk teaches invaluable art and history lessons through rhythm.

The Tony Award-winning musical moves through 100 years of history during the two-hour performance, leaving the audience with more than just a better understanding of the time. Light, dancing, vocals and sound make the history lesson emotional.

The cast recreates history in a way that gives the audience an amazing sense of place and time. Each of the moments in history is tied together through “the beat,” which differs during each stage of history but always is present.

The opening act starts “in ‘da beginning” on a slave ship and features the amazing vocals of Vickilyn Reynolds, who has appeared in the movies Friday and Primary Colors. Her voice helps narrate the story.

“The Panhandlers” scene is one of the most fun to watch. Two drummers, David Peter Chapman and Dennis J. Dove, strap metal plates to their bodies. To create the rhythm, they drum on themselves, on each other and on pots and pans that hang behind them. They also combine in episodes of synchronized drumming. They never loose the beat throughout it all.

The story moves forward through time and demonstrates the urbanization and industrialization of the North. It follows a man who goes to Chicago to find better work but gets caught up in the Chicago riots. The imagery and beat of this scene reflect the violence of this period of history. Red lights flash as the cast uses sound to “fight.” A real newscast plays in the background, reporting the deaths that result from the riots.

The beat then tells the story of Harlem during the 1930s. In this scene, Reynolds sings wearing a gorgeous white-beaded gown – the most spectacular costume of the show.

The show moves quickly through the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. However, the ’80s beat is shown in an ingenious fashion. Gospel and hip-hop, which are contrasting on the surface, are sung simultaneously. The scene is extremely well-conceived.

Bring in `Da Noise, Bring in `Da Funk is intuitive as it tells a story. It shows not only how music evolved but also the evolution of culture and society.

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