Melvin Brown has got the moves, and this suave dude who appears in a suit and gold satin shirt also has a killer voice. Backed by an enthusiastic band, he enters and performs a high energy dance number before breaking into song – barely (amazingly) out of breath.
Movin’ Melvin Brown has charisma and cool charm.
First, a rant: when I come to a show called ‘The Tap Dancing Preacher’ I want to be able to hear the preacher tap. Tap dancing is as much aural as it is visual, but even with two mics on the stage floor, Brown’s scintillating syncopation can barely be heard over the drummer bashing out beats. For the first 10 or 15 minutes of the performance, the band is excruciatingly loud and not until a soulful rendition of Amazing Grace is there some reprieve. Later in the show Brown jokes about Kat the drummer (who is an ace drummer aside from the unfortunate acoustics), sometimes needing to be held back but it’s too little too late.
Now, a rave: Movin’ Melvin Brown has charisma and cool charm. His energy is infectious and he often closes his eyes with ecstasy when he performs. As preacher, he retells childhood stories with gentle humour, and has a hilarious staccato chuckle (something like Sesame Street’s Count) that gets funnier every time. In the middle of an energetic rendition of When the saints go marching in Brown disappears off-stage, presumably to have a rest - but then reappears with a complete costume change, now clad in shining silver suit and ruffled shirt.
The gospel songs are performed with great heart by Brown and his slick band, and the audience was highly engaged, clapping and singing along. Don’t worry if you’re not a churchgoer – this show has plenty of appeal for all everyone and never feels too preachy.
You could say this is a show that brings people together. Some come for the gospel. Some for the tap dancing. Fix the deafening drums so we can properly hear the tap and this show is a winner.