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THROUGH DECEMBER 18
Forget Bubblin’ Brown Eubie and all those other Broadway reincarnations of black vaudeville. This revue, put together by Ronald “Smokey” Stevens from archival material and snippets of Langston Hughes’ poetry, feels more like the real thing than any of its predecessors. Stevens is a phenomenal performer who sounds like a foghorn with laryngitis and taps troubles away like his legendary dance teacher, Charles Honi Coles. The songs and skits he’s combined in this endearing two-character musical revue don’t just recreate the acts that toured the African-American T.O.B.A. (Theater Owners Booking Association) circuit, they comment on the circumstances black performers found themselves in at the time. The show is smart, sassy, and wonderfully inventive in its use of music. “The Funeral March of the Marionettes” (Alfred Hitchcock’s theme) underscores an uproarious mimed chess game in which the taking of each piece leads to show-stopping, slow-motion carnage. Stevens’ partner, Art Dailey, was recruited for this engagement, but these guys are so good at what one of them calls “conversationalization,” you’d swear they’d been performing together since childhood. The show reportedly played swimmingly in bigger auditoriums in Chicago and elsewhere—bookers of the New Lincoln and Ford’s Theaters take note—but seeing this certified powerhouse in the intimacy of Source’s hundred-seat auditorium is a treat. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees Sundays at 3 p.m. at Source Theater, 1835 14th St. NW. $16-18. (202) 462-1073. (Bob Mondello)