Celebrating the geniuses that were Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Jr, Movin’ Melvin Brown: Me, Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Jr combines tap and song, transporting you back to the golden era of the song and dance men.
We witness Movin’ Melvin Brown exploring the music of Ray Charles. There’s songs from swing, jazz, blues and gospel to country, pop and rock n’ roll, with classics including I Can’t Stop Loving You, Georgia On My Mind (declared the official song of the state of Georgia), Hit the Road Jack and a beautiful rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine. When Ray Charles sang the blues, it was said you felt the blues, but when Melvin Brown sings Ray Charles, you can’t but help feel a sense of joy at such a repertoire of known classics that spawned so many different genres.
Along with some incredible hoofing, Brown performs Charles’ classics with panache. But choose a seat with good sight lines or you’ll miss the intricate footwork. The performance is littered with Brown’s infectious laugh and energy and anecdotal stories of Ray Charles, the blind genius.
He also explores the other great master of song and dance, the legendary Sammy Davis Jr, who was renowned for mimicking his friends, including Frank Sinatra. Brown improvising Sammy Davis Jr. impersonating Michael Jackson doing Riverdance is a comical fusion of Irish tapping with Jackson’s renowned body-popping.
Ably supported by a backing singer, Francesca Sansalone, and a three piece band, this show will have you tapping in your seats and feeling the groove. There’s even audience participation, so shy members don’t tell Movin’ Melvin Brown you can tap dance.
As infectious as he is, he needs to keep the show tight. There’s a fair bit of improvisation in his set, with Brown morphing into one of his other shows, Movin’ Melvin Brown: The Tap-Dancing Preacher, with the audience chanting amens and him singing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The poor band look somewhat confused by this interlude, a tad carried away with the moment.