Funky Drummer

There's more to Bring in 'Da Noise than a pair of happy feet.

Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk The State Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue Wednesday, January 15, through Monday, January 20. Show times are 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 and 8 p.m. Sunday. $26.50 to $49.50; call 216-241-6000.

Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk isn't just about Savion Glover's happy feet. While the Tony Award-winning Broadway show owes a great deal of its success to the tap dancer, the rhythm, the poetry, the music, and the energy of the entire Noise/Funk troupe are what's kept it on the road for more than five years.

"Every day is different," explains percussion choreographer Jared "Choclatt" Crawford. "It's basically the same format, but I get to go free. Drumming is a rush for me. If my sound is right and the audience is right, oh, man. It's incredible."

So, while Glover's machine-gun choreography certainly fuels the show, it'd be less mesmerizing without Crawford's stylized drumming bringing both the noise and the funk. "I really get to express myself," Crawford says. "If I'm sad that day, I can bang it out and get happy."

Crawford got his start playing the sidewalks and subways of New York. He played buckets, poles, and whatever else was in range. He's still playing buckets -- with Noise/Funk, with Lauryn Hill (he played on her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and tour), and with his own show, Keep Bangin. "You've got to tune the buckets," he explains. "You get a big dude or a big woman and have them sit on them. And if they sit on them long enough, they'll make the tone of the buckets higher."

Noise/Funk, billed as an "ensemble musical," is really a celebration of tap. Glover's taken the history of the dance, tossed it into the streets, and brought it to the stage as both a cultural primer and dazzling entertainment. The accompaniment -- from folks banging on containers to spoken-word tribute -- makes it live.

"No matter what kind of story we tell, the drumming and the tap dancing always break through," Crawford says. "It's something people can relate to. We talk to people without using our mouths."

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