The Tap Dance Kid

The Tap Dance Kid

1983 Broadway Playbill
Music Henry Krieger
Lyrics Robert Lorick
Book Charles Blackwell
Basis Louise Fitzhugh novel Nobody's Family is Going to Change
Productions 1983 Broadway

The Tap Dance Kid is a musical based on the novel Nobody's Family is Going to Change by Louise Fitzhugh. It was written by Charles Blackwell with music by Henry Krieger and lyrics by Robert Lorick.


The musical opened on Broadway on December 21, 1983 at the Broadhurst Theatre and ran until March 11, 1984. On March 27, 1984 it resumed performances at the Minskoff Theatre, closing on August 11, 1985, for a total run of 669 performances. Directed by Vivian Matalon with musical staging and dances by Danny Daniels, it featured Hinton Battle, Samuel E. Wright, Hattie Winston, Martine Allard, and Alfonso Ribeiro as Willie. In 1984 Ribeiro's 10-year-old understudy, Savion Glover, took over the title role.[1]

Reviews were mixed. Frank Rich, in his review for The New York Times praised the choreography and many actors' performances but saw the plot as "earnest [but] plodding" and the music forgettable.[2]

A production directed by Jerry Zaks with choreography by Danny Daniels ran at the Pantages Theatre, Los Angeles, California, in September 1985 as part of a tour.[3] This production also ran in Miami Beach, Florida in April 1986[4] and Chicago, Illinois in May 1986.[5]

Plot overview

The title character, Willie, is a 10-year-old boy[6] who comes from an upper middle class African-American family. He dreams of becoming a dancer but faces opposition from his father, a lawyer. The second act is devoted to Willie's imaginations of stardom.


Act 1
  • Another Day — Ginnie, Emma and Dulcie
  • Four Strikes Against Me — Emma
  • Class Act — Ginnie, Dipsey and Daddy Bates
  • They Never Hear What I Say — Emma and Willie
  • Dancing Is Everything — Willie
  • Crosstown — Willie and New Yorkers
  • Fabulous Feet — Dipsey, Carole and Dancers
  • I Could Get Used to Him — Carole and Dancers
  • Man in the Moon — Dipsey

Act II
  • Like Him — Ginnie and Emma
  • My Luck Is Changing — Dipsey
  • I Remember How It Was — Ginnie
  • Someday — Emma and Willie
  • Lullabye — Ginnie
  • Tap Tap — Daddy Bates, Willie and Dipsey
  • Dance if It Makes You Happy — Willie, Dipsey, Daddy Bates, Carole and Dancers
  • William's Song — William
  • Class Act (Finale) — The Family

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1984 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Charles Blackwell Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Hinton Battle Won
Samuel E. Wright Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Martine Allard Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Vivian Matalon Nominated
Best Choreography Danny Daniels Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Hinton Battle Nominated


  1. Cullen, Frank (2006). Vaudeville, Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America, vol. 1 (1 ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. p. 443. ISBN 978-0415938532.
  2. Rich, Frank. "A Boy And His Dreams In 'Tap Dance Kid'". The New York Times. December 22, 1983. Retrieved November 24, 2006. (Subscription required)
  3. Sullivan, Dan. "Stage Review:Tapping Out A Dance Story At The Pantages" Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1985
  4. Zink, Jack. "'Tap Dance Kid' A Kick From Start To Finish", April 11, 1986
  5. Voedisch, Lynn. "'Tap Dance Kid' shuffles too much" Chicago Sun-Times, (article synopsis), May 15, 1986
  6. The Tap Dance Kid Samuel French, Inc., accessed January 10, 2011
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