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George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover have both done sparkling work on musicals. And their brainchild Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk comes complete with the usual musical-theater trappings of book and lyrics (by Reg E. Gaines) and music (by Daryl Waters, Zane Mark and Ann Duquesnay). At the Fox last week, Debra Byrd made lovely sounds singing the music and looked smashing, especially in the white 1920s outfit Paul Tazewell designed. And Thomas Silcott energized the few lines the book gave him to connect the scenes in the show. But those scenes simply cover the usual territory in the history of Africans in America, from the Middle Passage through slavery to northern migration and today's life on city streets. Noise/Funk lacks the dramatic core of a musical. It's really an evening of dance, and Glover's choreography is what makes it a landmark in the theater. If tap can't do everything Glover wants it to -- he can't quite make it fit on a slave ship -- this young genius takes tap far beyond the bounds of simple -- or even complex -- rhythmic entertainment. The amazing cast that was here, led on the night I saw it by Sean C. Fielder as 'da Beat, did more than right by Glover's creation.

-- Bob Wilcox

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