Life of a legend

Broad­way le­gend Maurice Hines takes audi­ences through a song-and-dance cel­eb­ra­tion of his ca­reer in ‘Tap­pin’ through Life.’ 

All in the fam­ily: Maurice Hines stars in Tap­pin’ through Life, which is run­ning at Penn’s Land­ing Play­house through Nov. 20. Hines ded­ic­ates the show to his late young­er broth­er, Gregory, the movie star and Tony award-win­ning act­or, sing­er and dan­cer.

Cho­reo­graph­er, dan­cer, act­or, dir­ect­or and Broad­way le­gend Maurice Hines takes audi­ences through his amaz­ing ca­reer in Tap­pin’ through Life, a song-and-dance cel­eb­ra­tion now run­ning at Penn’s Land­ing Play­house through Nov. 20.

Hines ded­ic­ates the show to his late young­er broth­er, Gregory, the movie star and Tony award-win­ning act­or, sing­er and dan­cer.

“A few years back, I read an art­icle that failed to men­tion Gregory. I didn’t want that to hap­pen again. I didn’t want his name to ever be for­got­ten,” Hines says.

The show is also an auto­bi­o­graph­ic­al timeline com­plete with pho­tos from his moth­er’s scrap­book and les­sons she taught to her two little boys, who began dan­cing at the ages of 5 and 3.

ldquo;As a trib­ute to my moth­er, the per­son who helped us through all the hard times, I show a photo of her at age 16 and sing You’re Just Too Mar­velous For Words. My moth­er al­ways told us, ‘You don’t count. The audi­ence counts. They came to see you, so give them everything you got.’ ”

And so that’s just what her sons did.

“Gregory and I al­ways un­der­stood and sup­por­ted each oth­er,” Hines re­calls. “He was so laid back, so ef­fort­less, and he would al­ways say that he nev­er had to worry about the audi­ence when we per­formed to­geth­er be­cause I would get them. Be­cause I was re­lent­less. That’s how we worked so well to­geth­er.”

Over the years, they worked well with oth­er per­formers — Ella Fitzger­ald, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Judy Gar­land, to name a few. In his many dance num­bers, Hines is some­times joined by the Man­zari Broth­ers, in their early 20s, as well as a ro­tat­ing lineup of oth­er skilled chil­dren, with mu­sic by the all-fe­male Diva Jazz Or­ches­tra.

ldquo;The Man­zari Broth­ers re­mind me a little of my­self and Gregory, but they have a very in­tric­ate style all their own, and the audi­ence goes crazy over them.”

And, of course, they go crazy over Hines, who ad­mits that with all the hats he wears, he prefers cho­reo­graphy.

“And whenev­er I get the chance, that’s what you’ll find me do­ing. When I’m in a room with dan­cers, I’m in heav­en. Un­like act­ors, who want to know the mo­tiv­a­tion of the char­ac­ter, all dan­cers want is the next step. Noth­ing mat­ters to them ex­cept the next step.”

Now in his 70s and still go­ing strong, Hines says when you have to do eight shows a week, you can’t go hanging out every night.

“You have to live a very dis­cip­lined life, which I love. The theat­er brings that out in you. Look at Chita Rivera, still dan­cing at 82!” ••

 Tap­pin’ Thru Life con­tin­ues at the Penn’s Land­ing Play­house, 211 S. Colum­bus Blvd., through Nov. 20. Call 855-HIT-SHOW. 

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