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Chicago Tap Theatre

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You've got to admire Mark Yonally's chutzpah--it's not every choreographer who'd combine a passion for tap dance and a childhood obsession with Edgar Allan Poe. The mix doesn't always work on this program of three pieces, but when it does it's because the coolness of tap makes us see the writer's melodrama in a new light. Yonally's solo to "The Raven" plays off the poem's round and rolling lines, his nuanced, often very rapid tapping both highlighting and varying their singsong rhythms. Elegant and spare, Yonally's reinterpretation of Poe's chestnut embodies its suspense and passion in a unique way. The Masque of the Red Death adds another of Yonally's interests to the mix: the music of the 80s. Set in a nightclub, this version of the story seems to reconfigure the Red Death as AIDS. It's a sensible comparison but perhaps a bit too predictable, and though the party scenes for seven dancers have considerable kinetic impact--I kept imagining these thunderous interludes as part of a larger piece of musical theater--the plague figure herself is laughably unfearsome. The Tell-Tale Heart reveals the weaknesses of Yonally's concept: the characters and plot seem merely mimed, not danced, and simply repeating the story's repetitions in the choreography doesn't hold much interest. Ultimately The Raven, which approaches a purely musical interpretation, is most successful. Through 7/17: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500. $15-$25.

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