Review: Time Steps (Chicago Tap Theatre)

| April 3, 2016

Mark Yonally and Jennifer Pfaff Yonally in Time Steps, Chicago Tap Theatre           
Time Steps

Written by Marc Kelly Smith
Choreographed by Mark Yonally
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Apr 10  |  tix: $35  | more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Emotional and moving


Kelsey Schlabaugh and Sarah Owens in Time Steps, Chicago Tap Theatre

Chicago Tap Theatre presents
Time Steps

Review by Lauren Whalen 

Dance isn’t always happy. Look at Swan Lake, La Bayadère and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet: all are beautiful but tragic cautionary tales of star-crossed love. This emotional weight isn’t limited to ballet, as Chicago Tap Theatre aptly demonstrates in their latest original work, Time Steps. A story of time travel told through tap, Time Steps carries a deep, pure message below the well-executed noise.

Isaac Stauffer, Kirsten Uttich and Sarah Owens in Tim Steps, Chicago Tap TheatreIn his sixth collaboration with Chicago Tap Theatre, Poetry Slam creator Marc Kelly Smith spins a story of a multi-millionaire (Mark Yonally) who meets a lovely young woman (Jennifer Pfaff Yonally) while vacationing in Barcelona. They quickly fall in with a wilder couple (Kirsten Uttich and Isaac Stauffer), but soon enough the temptations of the night become overwhelming. When the multi-millionaire and his love are faced with a life-changing choice, he wonders if he can, in fact, change the past. Enter the Time Salesman (Smith), who also serves as the narrator of the piece. He offers the chance to turn back the clock, but at a hefty price in more ways than one.

Time Steps is a bit like a modern-day Our Town, dealing with ordinary events that soon turn extraordinary, and the philosophical question of how much we appreciate life and love when they’re actually occurring. Kurt Schweitz’s original music underscores the narration and dances and lovingly supplements the story. Performed live on stage, the music adds an extra energy to the words, action and dancing, resulting in not just a show, but a full-bodied experience. Dustin Derry’s flawless lighting and projection design takes characters and the audience through Europe, crazy discos and high-risk casinos, and a barrier of time that may or may not be impenetrable.

Mark Yonally and Jennifer Pfaff Yonally in Time Steps, Chicago Tap Theatre Time Stpes by Chicago Tap Theatre at Stage 773

All of this would be moot without the brilliant choreography of the show’s leading man and CTT Artistic Director, Mark Yonally. Each individual dance, whether a solo, duet or group piece, is a jewel on its own and a shiny puzzle piece in the interlocking world of Time Steps. It’s all there: light romance, deep sadness, the thrill of letting loose in a new place, the unrelenting nature of loss. If you think this can’t be told, and told well, through tap dancing, Yonally’s choreography will prove you dead wrong. Time Steps’ ensemble, featuring CTT company members and several guest artists, don’t miss a click or a beat. Their taps are clear, music emanating from human bodies, active participants in the characters’ fates.

In a recent interview with NPR, Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. called dance one of the most pure art forms. Time Steps is living proof of this statement. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen: a dark, emotional account of love gone wrong, with moments of levity, clarity and wild freedom. The Chicago Tap Theatre is a gift to the local dance scene: the group is both staggeringly talented and never afraid to take a chance. With a compelling story, a stunning score and knockout choreography, Time Steps is a 75-minute emotional journey that’s not to be missed.

Rating: ★★★½

Time Steps continues through April 10th at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map), with performances Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays 3pm & 8pm, Sundays 2pm.  Tickets are $35 (seniors: $28, students: $23), and are available by phone (773-327-5252) or online through (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: 75 minutes, no intermission)

Time Steps by Chicago Tap Theatre, Stage 773

Photos by Josh Hawkins




Marc Smith (Narrator), Aric Barrow, Aimee Chase, Kirsten Uttich, Sarah Owens, Isaac Stauffer, Jennifer Pfaff Yonally, Mark Yonally, Andi Bissen, Jamie Salas, Kelsey Schlabaugh, Jessica Williams

behind the scenes

Billy Seigenfeld (director), Mark Yonally (choreographer), Kurt Schweitz (original music), Sarah Lackner (production and stage manager), Dustin Derry (lighting and projection design), Emma Cullimore (costume design), Jimmy Jagos (set and prop design), Jake Reich (sound design), Josh Hawkins (photographer)

Sarah Owens and Kelsey Schlabaugh in Time Steps, Chicago Tap TheatreMarc Kelly Smith in Time Steps, Chicago Tap Theatre


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Category: 2016 Reviews, Chicago Tap Theatre, Dance, Lauren Emily Whalen, New Work, Stage 773, World Premier

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