<b>REVIEW | </b>By Dale Burrows For The Weekly Herald
It’s 1944. Outside, Nazi buzz bombs are exploding over London. Inside, in a BBC radio studio, Brits dressed up like cowboys are singing for dear life.
Taproot is making madcap comedy, serious drama, high adventure and wistful romance out of an American legend nearing myth – namely, the cowboy.
It is 15 minutes before the BBC presents the U.S.’s Tex Riley and his Radio Roundup. Allied armed forces in Europe and listeners around the world are awaiting the boost in morale that singing cowboys invariably deliver, and oh-oh, no Tex. Yikes! Panic! But with stiff upper lips, the Brits make do.
We are talking the Queen’s English doing Wild West drawl, replete with swagger, slang and happy-go-lucky. The possibilities are a bellyful – of laughs, that is. And guess what? Tap taps them all and more.
“Chaps!” is serious fun rooted in historical fact.
Singing cowboys and their sweethearts like film sensations Roy Rogers and Dale Evans gave life to the hopes of the civilized world when the tide of war favored fascism. Some say the cowboy – tried, true and idealized – helped pave the way to V.E. Day.
A director other than Karen Lund might very well have lost control of the many strings that must be tied together to make this package the gift that it is. Lund takes charge. From every perspective, the comedy, drama and gallantry ring true. You can’t see it and not believe it.
A salute to the cast, every one on their marks all the time: Simon Pringle, Solomon Davis, Ian Lindsay, Sam Vance, William Hamer and Caitlin Macy-Beckwith. These guys grab and don’t let go.
The one show-stopping highlight, among many, that stands out in my mind is the entire company singing “White Cliffs of Dover/Round up in the Spring.” It not only crowns the fascination the British had with the American Cowboy in 1944. It also brought the lump to my throat that is still there.
Tap’s “Chaps!” is tops.
Reactions? Comments? Email Dale Burrows at email@example.com.
WHEN: Through Aug. 11
WHERE: Taproot Theatre, 204 N 85th St., Seattle
TICKETS: $29-$37, available by calling 206-781-9707 or go to www.taprootthreatre.org