There's tiptop tap-dancing in this stunning, warm-hearted new musical comedy
New York — The Tap Dance Kid Musical comedy by Charles Blackwell (book), Henry Krieger (music), and Robert Lorick (lyrics). Based on the novel ''Nobody's Family is Going to Change'' by Louise Fitzhugh. Directed by Vivian Matalon. Dances and musical staging by Danny Daniels. Musical supervision, orchestra, and vocal arrangements by Harold Wheeler.
Nobody loses, everyone wins, and virtuosity triumphs in ''The Tap Dance Kid.'' The ebulliently warm-hearted new musical at the Broadhurst Theatre celebrates the holiday season with an overflow of good will and an electrifying display of dancing talent. You think you've seen it all until Hinton Battle, Alan Weeks, and young Alfonso Ribeiro take off in ''Tap Tap'' about halfway through the second act. Then you realize again that, where dancers are concerned , there's always something more.
In its various essentials, ''The Tap Dance Kid'' is a family comedy-drama with song and dance embellishments. Based on a Louise Fitzhugh novel, the script by Charles Blackwell concerns the Sheridans, an upwardly mobile black family with the means to afford a Roosevelt Island apartment. Industrious lawyer William Sheridan (Samuel E. Wright) is a devoted but demanding husband and father who shows more firmness than affection.
Daughter Emma (Martine Allard) is a large, loud, and very smart teen-ager who wants to be a lawyer like her dad. But 11-year-old Willie (Mr. Ribeiro), the tap-dance kid of the title, yearns to follow in the fleet footsteps of his mother (Hattie Winston), once part of a ''class act'' with her brother Dipsey (Mr. Battle) and their father, Daddy Bates (Mr. Weeks). (Daddy appears as a lively and indispensable ghost in several flashback dance numbers and in Willie's dream fantasy - a whirling tribute to dancing legends.) William scorns brother-in-law Dipsey, whose talents have not yet lifted him from the show-business backwaters of minor club dates and industrial shows.
Although ''The Tap Dance Kid'' tends to ramble a bit, the musical numbers and Danny Daniels's tap routines provide the impetus and physical excitement that involve and delight the spectator. The songs by composer Henry Krieger and lyricist Robert Lorick achieve their purpose as serviceable components of the show's overall scheme. Besides the rhythmically strong up tunes essential for a dancing entertainment, the score includes such quiet solos as Dipsey's ''Man in the Moon,'' Ginnie's ''Lullabye,'' and the emotionally charged ''William's Song, '' in which the stern lawyer lets out the anger and anguish of race memory.
''The Tap Dance Kid'' encountered preparational problems that delayed its opening. Not all of these problems have been solved by reinstated director Vivian Matalon. But the shining spirit of this contemporary tale of various hopes in the process of realization comes through strong and clear.
In their Broadway debuts, the two youngsters in the cast earn their welcome. Besides his athletic tapping, Mr. Ribeiro offered a spot of eccentric break dancing that delighted a preview audience. The fine cast at the Broadhurst includes Jackie Lowe as Dipsey's philosophic girlfriend and the splendid Barbara Montgomery as the plain-speaking Sheridan domestic, and an unflagging dance ensemble.
Working from Harold Wheeler's arrangements, Don Jones conducts the kind of strong musical performance demanded by a show like ''The Tap Dance Kid.'' The production was lighted by Richard Nelson and costumed by William Ivey Long. Michael Hotopp and Paul dePass have designed a visual scheme that involves a fascinating color collage of Manhattan photo transparencies.