The noisy "Funk" mixes a little bit of history with a lot of percussion. 

They Got 'da Beat

"Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk"
Landmark Theater
8 p.m.
262-8100 I usually don't waste emotion on inanimate objects. But I am feeling some kind of pity for the Landmark Theater stage. By the time you read this, it probably will have been pummeled to a pulp by the cast of "Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk." I saw the touring show at Norfolk's Chrysler Hall last week, and when "Funk's" five acrobatic tap dancers left that stage, you could almost hear the floorboards sigh with relief. It's not just that "Funk" is filled with more than 90 minutes of furious footwork. It's the intensely percussive style these talented hoofers employ that is so punishing. As choreographed by dancing wunderkind Savion Glover, the dancers don't just tap, they hit, slap, scrape, smack and stomp the floor into submission. And speaking of "Stomp," you may wonder how "Funk" compares to that other rhythm-heavy Broadway touring show that rocked and rumbled the Carpenter Center a couple years back. Like "Stomp," "Funk" has a couple of amazing drummers that make use of an innovative collection of household items to beat out an impressive array of sounds. But the show's primary focus is feet. It also manages to slip in a few surprisingly evocative slices of African-American history amid all the dancing. The evening's tour guides are the nondancing duo of 'da Voice (Thomas Silcott) and 'da Singer (Debra Byrd), who prove to be as versatile as the dancers. They each portray a dozen characters as the play cruises quickly from the arrival of the first slave ships in America through black urbanization after the Civil War to the present day. Silcott is dapper and urbane as a tuxedo-clad party boy in the 1920s, as well as gritty and profane as a late '80s rapper. Byrd's body and voice are both full-figured; she belts out the show's title tune with a fervor not seen this side of Tina Turner. She also shows an ample talent for mimicry, managing to be both sultry and glamorous as a '40s-era chanteuse. But the songs and snatches of the past really just provide a framework for the dances, and what wild, well-crafted dances they are. Choreographer Glover and director George C. Wolfe have constructed scenes where performers dance when they're dressing, dance when they're working, even dance as they're dying. They use dance to capture the monotony of factory work, the fear and anger of a Chicago street fight, and the frustration of trying to hail a taxi. With the variety of approaches and themes, it is not until the last few scenes that all this tapping gets monotonous and, in the case of an extended jam session called "Hittin'," a bit indulgent. "Funk" hits Richmond on the heels of another groundbreaking Broadway hit, "Rent." Though different in numerous ways, the two shows share some important similarities. Both are noisy, brazen works that seek to redefine theater for a younger audience. You could say that, in addition to 'da noise and 'da funk, this show is bringing in a new

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